Care courses top fee-free TAFE enrolments

Students on escalator. | Newsreel
More than 350,000 Australians registered for fee-free TAFE courses in 2023. | iStock

More than 350,000 Australians enrolled in fee-free TAFE courses last year, with early childhood education and care qualifications the most popular.

Fee-free TAFE, which is funded by all states and territories and the Commonwealth, removes financial barriers for training in areas facing significant skill shortages, with enrolments prioritised for groups excluded or under-represented in the labour market.

The 355,557 enrolments in 2023 exceeded the initial first-year target of 180,000.

More than 82,000 enrolments were in the care sector, with 31,200 in technology and digital, 24,200 in construction, 19,200 in early childhood education and care and 14,600 in agriculture.

The most popular courses in 2023 were the Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care, Certificate III in Electrotechnology Electrician, Certificate IV in Cyber Security, Diploma of Nursing, Certificate IV in Training and Assessment.

Priority groups were strongly represented with the enrolment of 80,000 job seekers, more than 26,000 people with disability and more than 23,000 First Nations people.

More than 62 percent of enrolments were women and students from regional and remote areas made up more than 66 percent of total enrolments.

More than 76,000 Australians who speak a language other than English at home also took advantage of fee-free TAFE.