10,000 new free TAFE places funded as part of COVID-19 recovery plan

Posted: 7th Jul

Victoria's free TAFE program will be expanded, with 10,000 more places created in fields the Victorian government says will help the state recover from the economic crisis caused by COVID-19.

The places will be offered in four TAFE courses, covering health, mental health, the NDIS and construction.

The initiative will cost the state $163 million, a significant extension of the Andrews government's subsidisation of vocational education.

The government said the selected courses were all linked to its strategy to create jobs that will drive the state's recovery from the pandemic.

TAFE courses to be subsidised are the certificate IV in mental health peer work, the certificate III in health services assistance, the certificate III in civil construction plant operations and the skills set course in introduction to the NDIS.

The courses are linked to jobs in fields such as nursing, earthmoving and aged and disability care.

The investment also includes $3.9 million for 11,000 accredited short courses in construction, on offer until June 2021.

The government said the targeted investments would help people with existing qualifications retrain and gain employment in sectors that need more skilled workers.

There is an increased need for the certificate IV in mental health peer work because of the impacts of coronavirus and in line with the interim recommendation from the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, the government said.

"We’re giving Victorian workers and industry the skills they need to help us rebuild from coronavirus," Minister for Training and Skills Gayle Tierney said.

The government said it hoped the expansion of free TAFE would help people affected by the pandemic to find new work, particularly women and young people.

"This package will ensure more Victorians – particularly those hit hard by the pandemic – can get new skills and a good job," Ms Tierney said.

The introduction of a fee-free program for 50 priority TAFE and pre-apprenticeship courses in 2018 cost $172 million and contributed to an 88 per cent increase in enrolments last year.

However, Victoria's auditor-general also found, in a report tabled last week, that the TAFE sector recorded a net deficit of $43.8 million last year, while eight of the state's 12 TAFE institutes reported a loss in their 2019 annual reports.

The Andrews government announced a $260.8 million rescue package for TAFE in April, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Source: The Age - https://www.theage.com.au/politics/victoria/10-000-new-free-tafe-places-funded-as-part-of-covid-19-recovery-plan-20200706-p559ie.html