Fee-free TAFE pledge for construction sector

Vocational students in classroom. | Newsreel
More fee-free vocational training places will be available in 2025. | Photo: Andre Sr (iStock)

An extra 20,000 fee-free vocational training places will be offered next year to boost the workforce in the construction and housing industries.

Next week’s Federal Budget will include almost $90 million to fund the places.

Federal Skills and Training Minister Brendan O’Connor said the Government would work with states and territories and provide $62.4 million to deliver an additional 15,000 Fee-Free TAFE and VET places and $26.4 million for 5000 places in pre-apprenticeship programs, all over two years from January 1 next year.

Minister O’Connor said places could be offered by both TAFEs and industry Registered Training Organisations that provided specialised and high-quality training in the sector.

He said the additional places built on previous commitments with fee-free TAFE supporting more than 355,000 student enrolments nationally up to the end of last year.

He said enrolments were strong across all priority sectors, with more than 24,000 construction sector course enrolments in 2023.

“Of these 24,000 enrolments, over 3000 of them were by women,” Minister O’Connor said.

He said the new pre-apprenticeships places would support more people to move into a construction apprenticeship and succeed in training, by providing students with a taste of industry experience before choosing to become an apprentice.

Minister O’Connor said engaging migrants was also critical to meeting skills needs in Australia’s construction and housing sectors.

“That’s why the Budget also includes $1.8 million to streamline skills assessments for around 1900 potential migrants from countries with comparable qualifications who want to work in Australia’s construction and housing sector, and prioritise the processing of around 2600 Trades Recognition Australia skills assessments in targeted occupations.”