Release type: Joint Media Release


Australian and WA Governments sign landmark skills agreement


The Hon Brendan O'Connor MP
Minister for Skills and Training
The Hon Mark McGowan MLA
Premier of Western Australia
The Hon Sue Ellery MLC
Western Australia Minister for Education and Training

The Australian and Western Australian 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 Western Australians.

The Agreement will inject more than $112 million into the Western Australian skills and training sector.

This will provide immediate support through approximately 18,800 Fee Free TAFE and vocational education and training (VET) places in 2023.

Fee Free TAFE and vocational education will better match training with skills shortages identified through the skills priority list, driving enrolments in key sectors.

The course list, based on last year’s enrolments, is estimated to see approximately 8,500 fee free places in the care sector, 2,400 places in technology and digital, 1,900 places in agriculture, 1,500 places in construction, 1,400 places in hospitality and tourism, 300 places in sovereign capability including manufacturing, and around 2,800 in other sectors including foundational skills.

The funding supports the new FREE IN ’23 initiative, which is designed to reskill and upskill people for work in national and Western Australian priority sectors and covers:

  • Course fees for 58 full TAFE qualifications; and
  • Course fees and resource fees for 56 skills sets.

Fee Free TAFE and more VET places in Western Australia come at a crucial time as the State works to strengthen its workforce in a range of sectors of National and State priority.

The delivery of fee free courses in Western Australia will reflect student demand. Students in WA will be able to select and enroll in the Fee Free TAFE courses available.  

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 addresses skills gaps in the economy.

The Agreement includes an Australian Government commitment of $8.2 million from the TAFE Technology Fund to improve training facilities in Western Australia, and $0.93 million for essential VET data infrastructure reform.

The $8.2 million commitment from the TAFE Technology Fund will upgrade essential infrastructure for training in WA, including: 

  • $3.24 million to transform Midland TAFE into a renewables jobs and training hub, though the installation of a wind turbine and working at heights training tower, and equipment upgrades for the METRONET Trade Training Centre to provide students with access to systems used in modern train signalling;
  • $2 million for a state-of-the-art commercial kitchen at the Bentley Pines Training Restaurant, providing live works training for hospitality students and dining opportunities for the local community; and
  • $3 million to establish a Trade Training Centre at Ellenbrook Secondary College to train students and adults in hospitality and construction.

All Governments have also agreed to a vision statement and guiding principles for longer-term VET reform to commence in 2024.

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

“The Albanese Government recognises the urgency of the skills crisis facing the nation, and the challenges particular to Western Australia, which is why this Agreement is so important.

“To provide greater opportunity for Western Australians to have secure and rewarding employment we must be able to skill and reskill our workforce.

“Whether it’s a need to support hospitality and tourism, construction, agriculture, technology, or the care sector, and build our sovereign capability in manufacturing, we need to deliver these skills at a time of acute skills shortages.

“I’m thrilled to make this joint investment with Minister Ellery to expand opportunities to Western Australians.”

Comments attributable to Mark McGowan, Western Australian Premier

“My Government is committed to providing opportunities for all Western Australians to access TAFE training and benefit from our State’s strong economic position, low unemployment and thriving jobs market.

“I thank the Commonwealth for this joint investment in fee-free TAFE for Western Australians next year, and thank them for quickly reaching an agreement at a time when skills are in such demand across Australia.

“This new 12-month Skills Agreement with the Commonwealth builds on the WA Government’s strong track record of supporting individuals and the State’s priority workforce through free and low-fee training.”

Comments attributable to Sue Ellery, Western Australian Minister for Education and Training

“Through low-fee initiatives, the McGowan Labor Government has already achieved historically high participation in training.

“These fee-free TAFE places, available for more than 100 courses next year, will play a key role in addressing skills shortages and further open doors for many who have not engaged in the training system and require extra support to do so.

“First Nations people, young people, people out of work or receiving income support, unpaid carers, and people with disability are particularly encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity for tuition fee free training.”