Release type: Media Release


Australians enrolling in Fee-Free TAFE in droves


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

The Albanese Government has supported almost 150,000 Australians to enrol in Fee-Free TAFE already this year, marking the start of a once in a generation reform of the TAFE and Vocational Education and Training sector.

The Commonwealth and State and Territory Governments’ joint Fee-Free TAFE initiative is encouraging a wide-range of applicants including First Nations people, job seekers, people living with disabilities, women studying in traditionally male-dominated fields and young people.

Fee-Free TAFE has seen a strong uptake by women, who represent 60 per cent of all enrolments, while more than 25,000 students currently enrolled in Fee-Free TAFE are from households that speak a language other than English at home.

New figures show very strong enrolments, with:

  • More than 65,000 students in NSW
  • Over 26,000 in both Victoria and Queensland
  • More than 12,000 people with disability
  • Almost 35,000 jobseekers
  • Nationwide, almost 30 per cent of all enrolments have been in courses related to the care sector – an area of high priority.

Federal Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O’Connor attended the National Skills Minister’s meeting on Friday to continue negotiating the future 5-year National Skills Agreement, following the success of the 12-month skills agreement landed last year with all States and Territories.

The need to broaden access to education, and to fix skill shortages, is why the Albanese Government is making available $4.1 billion for an agreement with state and territory governments to deliver a once in a generation reform through a joint stewardship model to better address national needs.

The most popular courses have been in skills priority areas like Early Childhood Education, Nursing, Support work, cyber security, and construction, highlighting the success of Fee-Free TAFE in encouraging Australians into sectors needing more skilled workers.

Students under the age of 35 make up the majority of enrolments at 60 per cent, however, there has been an encouraging take-up of Fee-Free TAFE for older Australians, with almost 26,000 students over the age of 45.

We are already delivering 180,000 Fee Free TAFE and Vocational Education and Training (VET) places in 2023, and our new skills investments includes over $400 million for a further 300,000 Fee Free TAFE and VET places in high skill needs areas from 2024.

Quotes Attributable to Brendan O’Connor, Minister for Skills and Training
The Albanese Government recognises the urgency of the skills crisis facing the nation, and that by working collaboratively with each State and Territory, we can build the skilled economy for the future.

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

Fee-Free TAFE is playing a key role in addressing the skills shortages we face and opening doors for Australians who might otherwise be unable to afford training.