ECEC shines in top 3 as 180,000 Fee-Free TAFE places are filled
The Sector > Quality > Professional development > ECEC shines in top 3 as 180,000 Fee-Free TAFE places are filled

ECEC shines in top 3 as 180,000 Fee-Free TAFE places are filled

by Freya Lucas

August 30, 2023

Early childhood education and care (ECEC) courses are in the top three most popular Fee-Free TAFE courses. 


New figures show Fee-Free TAFE enrolments have hit more than 214,300 in the first six months – nearly 35,000 places more than expected.


The broader care sector has proven to be incredibly popular, with courses across health care, aged care and disability care attracting more than 51,000 students or 23.8 per cent of total enrolments.


These urgently needed care sector places will help address Australia’s shortfall of care workers, which has been estimated to grow to a gap of 100,000 care workers nationwide by 2027-28.


“This is an encouraging sign that Australia is making progress on easing skills shortages still affecting many areas of the economy post-pandemic. These shortages affect up to 31 per cent of occupations according to the 2022 Skills Priority List,” said Federal Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O’Connor. 


“Fee-Free TAFE is the spark that is igniting a renewed sense of optimism and potential in our vocational education and training sector and I’m looking forward to building on our success.”


ECEC attracted 11,868 enrolments (5.5 per cent of all enrolments), and demographic data shows that Fee-Free TAFE is making inroads supporting disadvantaged and in-need Australians, with enrolments including 50,849 job seekers (23.7 per cent), 15,269 people with disability (7.1 per cent), and 6,845 First Nations Australians (3.2 per cent).


Women make up the majority (60.2 per cent) of enrolments, with nearly 130,000 women taking on a qualification under the program.


“One of our major commitments from the Jobs and Skills Summit was delivering free TAFE places to train, retrain and upskill Australian workers,” said Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.


“Working with states and territories, in six months we have smashed our target of 180,000 Fee-Free enrolments by almost 35,000 places – this is a terrific achievement.”


The Albanese Government expects to announce the next tranche of Fee-Free training places for 2024 in coming weeks. 

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