Western Australian TAFE colleges are experiencing a surge in enrolments in Fee-Free courses thanks to a landmark partnership between the Australian and Western Australian Governments. As students take advantage of the first opportunity to access fee free training through FREE in ‘23, WA TAFE colleges have seen a surge in enrolments in fee free courses at the start of Semester 1, with a 10 per cent increase in fee free courses compared to the same time period in 2022.
More than half of the 18,800 Fee-Free places provided under the agreement have already been snapped up by Western Australians. There have been almost 13,000 enrolments in Fee-Free courses and skill sets in semester one, highlighting the demand for and the importance of access to education and training. The Free in ‘23 initiative, designed to boost skills development in priority areas, is already achieving results. Qualifications in early childhood education and care; aged and disability care; nursing and technology have seen the strongest enrolments, adding much needed skills for these priority industries.
Women and young people aged 15 to 24 in particular are enjoying the benefits of Fee-Free training for full qualifications, making up 66 per cent and 41 per cent of the cohort respectively. These early results are promising, providing opportunities for priority groups in the Western Australian community, and training workers for critical industries such as the care sector, technology and digital, hospitality and tourism, construction, agriculture and defence. Fee-Free training is now available across more than 100 courses including a range of qualifications and skill sets with all Western Australians eligible to access the program at WA TAFE colleges and training providers.
In WA, plans are also underway to implement the Australian Government’s $8.2 million TAFE Technology Fund to improve training facilities in the state. North Metropolitan TAFE’s Midland campus was allocated $3.24 million to transform the campus into a renewables training hub, through the installation of a wind turbine and working at heights training tower, and equipment upgrades for the METRONET Trade Training Centre. North Metropolitan TAFE’s training facility will support the existing workforce, while also training for future green trades and emerging technologies to be at the forefront of a growing industry.
“The Albanese Government recognises Western Australia’s strong economy and ongoing high demand for skilled workers in the State. says Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O'Connor. “The encouraging take-up of Fee-Free TAFE and VET courses following the agreement between the Commonwealth and Western Australian Government is a positive sign that people are ready to train for vital industries that will be in demand now and in the future. Whether it’s in renewable energy, the care sector, technology and digital, hospitality and tourism, construction, agriculture or defence, Fee-Free TAFE and VET removes financial barriers for Western Australians to access training to upskill or reskill for jobs in priority sectors. Our end goal is to provide greater opportunity for West Australians to have secure and rewarding work.”
Minister for Training Simone McGurk added “The WA Government is committed to providing opportunities for all Western Australians to access training, allowing them to benefit from our State’s strong economic position, low unemployment and thriving jobs market. Our joint investment builds on the WA Government’s track record of supporting the State’s priority workforce through free and low fee training – and it is encouraging to see so many enrolments in early childhood education and care, aged and disability care, nursing and technology. Increasing opportunities for all helps priority groups access training and I’m especially pleased to see so many women and young people taking advantage of the opportunity to gain new skills or upskill for jobs of the future.”