Release type: Media Release


Skilling and training Australians for a stronger economy and a better future


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

The Albanese Government’s 2023-24 Budget will help to rebuild and modernise our skills sector to ensure a stronger and more resilient economy and give more Australians the opportunity to access well paid and secure jobs, now and in the future.

After a decade of failure to deliver skills reform under the LNP - which has led to shortages and workforce gaps – the Albanese Government has already made strides to skill and train our nation’s workforce.

We are already delivering 180,000 Fee Free TAFE and Vocational Education and Training (VET) places in 2023, along with investing in financial support for apprentices, particularly those choosing to take on a New Energy Apprenticeship.

Our 2023-24 Budget is critical to addressing the nation’s skills challenges. And our new skills investments build on over $400 million provided in our October 2022 Budget for a further 300,000 Fee Free TAFE and VET places in high-skill needs areas from 2024 to 2026 – subject to agreement with states and territories.

We’re working to remove the barriers Australians face in accessing life-changing education and training and ensuring that Australians from all backgrounds and cultures are supported to achieve their full potential.

Our Budget will deliver:

  • An additional $3.7 billion upon striking a five-year National Skills Agreement with states and territories to ensure more access to vocational education and training, with TAFE at the centre. National Cabinet has agreed that gender equality and women’s participation in labour markets will be a focus of the NSA and jurisdictions will work collaboratively on national skills priorities, including transformation to a net zero economy.
  • $436 million over four years to fundamentally reform the way the Commonwealth delivers Foundation Skills programs, so more Australians over the age of 15 who need training to improve their literacy, numeracy and digital skills have access.
  • An additional $54.3 million in critical Australian Apprenticeship supports to improve completion rates. Improving the quality of services and better targeted support will be particularly crucial to supporting women, First Nations people, CALD apprentices, and people with disability to complete their apprenticeship.
  • $8.6 million to deliver the Australian Skills Guarantee and introduce national targets for apprentices, trainees and paid cadets working on Australian Government funded major infrastructure and ICT projects. This includes responsible sub targets to boost women’s participation in apprenticeships.
  • $3.9 million in additional funding over two years to establish a defence vocational skills taskforce. This will help develop the workforce required to shape our sovereign industrial base and support the delivery of Australia’s nuclear submarine program.
  • $42.2 million to develop a modern fit-for-purpose IT system for the VET Student Loan program – a long overdue upgrade.

The Albanese Government has inherited the most significant national skills shortage in decades and is taking action by providing greater opportunities for Australians to acquire the skills they need to secure rewarding and sustainable employment, in priority workforce areas.

Whether it’s in clean energy, the care sector, agriculture, hospitality and tourism, construction, technology, or the need for sovereign capability in manufacturing, we must deliver these skills at a time of acute skills shortages.

It’s vital the Commonwealth, State and Territory governments work together to create a higher quality, more dynamic and more resilient VET sector.

After a decade of wasted opportunities on skills and training, the Albanese Labor Government is focused on:

National Skills Agreement

Delivering a future workforce by providing hundreds of thousands of Australians access to high-quality training. The Government is prepared to invest an additional $3.7 billion in the new National Skills Agreement with states and territories that will put TAFE at the centre of a high quality, responsive skills system.

Funding will be available to deliver on the vision agreed by National Cabinet at the Jobs and Skills Summit – including supporting access to foundation skills, Closing the Gap for First Nations students and apprentices, supporting women's participation, and improving completion rates for students and apprentices.

Subject to successful negotiation of the NSA with states and territories, this will take total Commonwealth investment in their training systems to $12.8 billion over five years.

Foundation Skills

Fixing and reforming the delivery of foundation skills, given one in five Australian adults lack core literacy, numeracy and digital literacy skills, which limits their ability to participate fully in training and secure work.

Removing barriers to accessing these programs, including the requirement to be a registered job seeker. This means better access to foundation skills training for Australians aged over 15, supporting them to successfully participate in training and achieve their full potential at work.

National targets for women in apprenticeships, through the Australian Skills Guarantee

We are establishing new targets to double the proportion of women in apprenticeships and traineeships on Commonwealth funded major construction projects over $10 million, by 2030. This will help us deliver on our aim to triple participation of women in trade apprenticeships by the end of the decade.

Adjusting the Skills Assessment Pilots

We are adjusting two of the three Skills Assessment Pilots, which are delivering free and fast-tracked skills assessments and employability assessments to improve employment outcomes for onshore migrants – including humanitarian visa holders and partners of skilled migrants - in priority occupations.

Two of the Pilots will extend by 8 months, add new eligible occupations to reflect the 2022 Skills Priority List and expand the eligibility criteria to increase access to migrant women.

This Budget is about creating more opportunities and a more secure economy. Achieving that means tackling one of our greatest economic challenges in decades, the lack of skilled workers. 

The Albanese Government will set the skills and training sector back on the right path, enabling a better, more secure future for all Australians