Release type: Joint Media Release


Albanese government's Fee-Free TAFE blitz smashes target six months early


The Hon Brendan O'Connor MP
Minister for Skills and Training

The Albanese Government’s plan to train, retrain or upskill Australians and tackle skills shortages is a raging success with all 180,000 Fee-Free places filled within six months.

New figures show Fee-Free TAFE enrolments have hit more than 214,300 in the first six months – six months earlier than anticipated and nearly 35,000 places more than expected.

The biggest winner is set to be the care sector, with courses across health care, aged care and disability care attracting more than 51,000 students or 23.8 per cent of total enrolments.

These urgently needed care sector places will help address Australia’s shortfall of care workers, which has been estimated to grow to a gap of 100,000 care workers nationwide by 2027-28.

Enrolments are also strong across other priority sectors, with:

  • Construction attracting 20,987 enrolments (9.8 per cent)
  • Technology and digital attracting 16,768 enrolments (7.8 per cent)
  • Early childhood education and care attracting 11,868 enrolments (5.5 per cent)

Demographic data also shows Fee-Free TAFE is making inroads supporting disadvantaged and in-need Australians, with enrolments including 50,849 job seekers (23.7 per cent), 15,269 people with disability (7.1 per cent) and 6,845 First Nations Australians (3.2 per cent).

Women make up the majority (60.2 per cent) of enrolments, with nearly 130,000 women taking on a qualification under the program.

More than a third of enrolments (34.1 per cent) are located in inner and outer regional locations.

The Fee-Free TAFE and VET agreement was only possible because of genuine partnership on skills and training with State and Territory Government’s established at the Jobs and Skills Summit.

We will continue to work together to ensure excellence and quality in the vocational education and training sector.

The Albanese Government expects to announce the next tranche of Fee-Free training places for 2024 in coming weeks. 

Quotes attributable to Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese

“One of our major commitments from the Jobs and Skills Summit was delivering free TAFE places to train, retrain and upskill Australian workers.

“Working with states and territories, in six months we have smashed our target of 180,000 Fee-Free enrolments by almost 35,000 places – this is a terrific achievement.

“Fee-Free training offers a huge cost of living relief for students, grows the recruitment pool for businesses and eases the skills shortages that hold our economy back.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Skills and Training, Brendan O’Connor

“This is an encouraging sign that Australia is making progress on easing skills shortages still affecting many areas of the economy post-pandemic. These shortages affect up to 31 per cent of occupations according to the 2022 Skills Priority List.

“The Australian Government is committed to working with the States and Territories, who have been great partners and advocates during the delivery of this program.

“Fee-Free TAFE is the spark that is igniting a renewed sense of optimism and potential in our vocational education and training sector and I’m looking forward to building on our success.”