WA and Canberra sign skills agreement

The Australian and Western Australian Governments have signed a 12-month Skills Agreement to address the current skills shortage and deliver Fee Free TAFE and more vocational education places for Western Australians.

The Agreement will inject more than $112 million into the Western Australian skills and training sector, and includes approximately 18,800 Fee Free TAFE and vocational education and training (VET) places in 2023.

Fee Free TAFE and vocational education will better match training with skills shortages identified through the skills priority list, driving enrolments in key sectors, according to a joint government statement.

The course list, based on last year’s enrolments, is estimated to see approximately 8,500 fee free places in the care sector, 2,400 places in technology and digital, 1,900 places in agriculture, 1,500 places in construction, 1,400 places in hospitality and tourism, 300 places in sovereign capability including manufacturing, and around 2,800 in other sectors including foundational skills.

The funding supports the new FREE IN ’23 initiative, which is designed to reskill and upskill people for work in national and Western Australian priority sectors and covers:

  • Course fees for 58 full TAFE qualifications
  • And course fees and resource fees for 56 skills sets.

Fee Free TAFE and more VET places in Western Australia come at a crucial time as the State works to strengthen its workforce in a range of sectors of National and State priority.

The delivery of fee free courses in Western Australia will reflect student demand. Students in WA will be able to select and enroll in the Fee Free TAFE courses available.

The Agreement will increase opportunities and workforce participation of priority groups, including First Nations Australians, young people (17-24), people out of work or receiving income support, unpaid carers, women undertaking study in non-traditional fields, people with disability and certain categories of visa holders.

WA Minister for Education and Training Sue Ellery said: “Through low-fee initiatives, the McGowan Labor Government has already achieved historically high participation in training.

“These fee-free TAFE places, available for more than 100 courses next year, will play a key role in addressing skills shortages and further open doors for many who have not engaged in the training system and require extra support to do so.

“First Nations people, young people, people out of work or receiving income support, unpaid carers, and people with disability are particularly encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity for tuition fee free training.”

The $8.2 million commitment from the TAFE Technology Fund will upgrade essential infrastructure for training in WA, including:

  • $3.24 million to transform Midland TAFE into a renewables jobs and training hub, though the installation of a wind turbine and working at heights training tower, and equipment upgrades for the METRONET Trade Training Centre to provide students with access to systems used in modern train signalling
  • $2 million for a state-of-the-art commercial kitchen at the Bentley Pines Training Restaurant, providing live works training for hospitality students and dining opportunities for the local community
  • And $3 million to establish a Trade Training Centre at Ellenbrook Secondary College to train students and adults in hospitality and construction.
  • All Governments have also agreed to a vision statement and guiding principles for longer-term VET reform to commence in 2024.

Brendan O’Connor, Minister for Skills and Training said: “The Albanese Government recognises the urgency of the skills crisis facing the nation, and the challenges particular to Western Australia, which is why this Agreement is so important.

“To provide greater opportunity for Western Australians to have secure and rewarding employment we must be able to skill and reskill our workforce.”

Picture: WA Minister for Education and Training Sue Ellery

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