Government secures first free TAFE deals

November 18, 2022 02:40 PM AEDT | By AAPNEWS
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The federal government is confident a series of deals with remaining states and territories to deliver free TAFE places will roll out in the coming months after South Australia finalised its agreement on Friday.

State and territory skills ministers met with federal minister Brendan O'Connor in Adelaide on Friday to discuss the details of the National Skills Agreement.

The SA government signed a $65 million deal to provide 12,500 fee-free further education places in 2023.

Mr O'Connor said the deal would provide workers with the skills industries required.

"Whether it's a need to build our sovereign capability in manufacturing, construction, agriculture, hospitality and tourism, technology or in the care sector, we need to deliver these skills at a time of acute shortages," he said.

In an attempt to address widespread shortages, ahead of September's jobs and skills summit, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese struck a $1.1 billion deal for the implementation of 180,000 fee-free TAFE places.

However, the federal opposition has criticised the delay in confirming the details of the free TAFE promise, claiming the federal government has unfairly left students in the dark.

"As any parent knows, most students have already made big decisions about what they want to do," deputy opposition leader Sussan Ley said in a statement.

"As a result of the facts around free TAFE not being part of those important discussions with teachers, career counsellors, parents and friends, many students that should be taking up training in these in-demand skills have locked in alternative study options."

The national agreement needed reworking after negotiations under the coalition government broke down with states and territories earlier this year.

On Monday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced that if Labor is re-elected in next week's state election, Labor will guarantee free TAFE for all Victorians.

Mr O'Connor said his department is in the "advanced" stages of its negotiations with states and territories and it recognises the urgency of the skills crisis facing the country.

States are set to finalise agreements with the government in coming weeks.


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