Release type: Joint Media Release


Australian and NSW Governments sign landmark skills agreement for 120,000 fee-free TAFE and VET places


The Hon Brendan O'Connor MP
Minister for Skills and Training
The Hon Alister Henskens SC MP
New South Wales Minister for Skills and Training

The Australian and NSW Governments have signed a landmark 12-month Skills Agreement to address the current skills shortage and deliver Fee Free TAFE and more vocational education places for the people of NSW.

The $319 million agreement will deliver a significant boost to the NSW skills and training sector.

This will provide immediate support through approximately 120,000 Fee Free TAFE and vocational education and training (VET) places in 2023.

The course list will see approximately 40,200 fee-free places in the care sector (including approximately 10,000 in the Early Childhood Education and Care sector), 9,900 in technology and digital, 6,900 in agriculture, 5,200 in construction, 5,000 in hospitality and tourism, 1,200 in sovereign capability, and 51,400 in other priority sectors including foundation skills.
The Agreement will increase opportunities and workforce participation of priority groups, including First Nations Australians, young people (17-24), people out of work or receiving income support, unpaid carers, women undertaking study in non-traditional fields, people with disability and certain categories of visa holders.
The 12-month Skills Agreement confirms TAFE’s central role in the VET sector, increases opportunities and workforce participation of priority groups and addressing skills gaps in the economy.
Fee Free TAFE and more VET places in NSW come at a crucial time as the State works to strengthen its workforce in a range of sectors of National and State priority. 

The Agreement includes an Australian Government commitment of $1.32 million for essential VET data infrastructure reform in NSW and $7.5 million from the Australian Government’s TAFE Technology Fund to improve training facilities in NSW.
The $7.5 million commitment from the TAFE Technology Fund will upgrade essential infrastructure for training at TAFE NSW campuses. 
All Governments have also agreed to a vision and guiding principles for longer-term VET reform to commence in 2024.
Quotes Attributable to Brendan O’Connor MP, Minister for Skills and Training
The Australian Government recognises the urgency of the skills crisis facing the nation, and the challenges particular to NSW, which is why this Agreement is so important.
If we want to provide greater opportunity in NSW for secure and rewarding employment, we must be able to skill and reskill our workforce.
Whether it’s a need to build our care sector, construction, hospitality and tourism, or technology and digital sectors, we need to deliver these skills at a time of acute skills shortages.
I’m thrilled to make this joint investment to expand opportunities for all people in NSW.
Quotes Attributable to Alister Henskens SC MP, NSW Minister for Skills and Training 
The NSW Government has invested a record $3.1 billion in the skills and training sector this financial year to help people get the skills they need for the jobs they want.  
NSW is leading the nation when it comes to skills and training and this additional $164 million investment from the Australian Government recognises our State as the economic powerhouse of the nation.
This additional investment in fee-free training places will target priority industries and help address skills and labour shortages that are hampering businesses across NSW.
I welcome the Australian Government’s investment in this space and look forward to continuing to work together to strengthen the pipeline of skilled workers in NSW.