Could free TAFE and Uni be the answers for skills shortages?
The Sector > Quality > Professional development > More than ½ of Australia believes free Uni and TAFE will solve skills shortages

More than ½ of Australia believes free Uni and TAFE will solve skills shortages

by Freya Lucas

September 20, 2023

More than half of Australians believe that cheaper or free TAFE or university courses are the most effective way to solve the country’s skills shortage, which is impacting many sectors and industries including early childhood education and care (ECEC). 


22 per cent of those surveyed also believe it is also the fastest solution. The findings have been derived from a survey of an independent, nationally representative panel of 1012 Australians commissioned by immigration assistance and advice platform Immigration to Australia,  which sought to find out what Australians think is the most effective and fastest way to solve the current skills shortage.


The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported an elevated number of job vacancies this year and a persistent gap between the average number of qualified and suitable applicants.


The proliferation of vacancies are impacting a number of key sectors and industries, many of which involve the broader care sector such as disability care, aged care and ECEC. 


Job vacancies were 89.3 per cent higher in May 2023 than in February 2020. The Australian government is already addressing this need through the delivery of 180,000 fee-free TAFE and vocational education places across Australia this year, however this may not be enough to respond to the demand. 


The survey results also found that half (50 per cent) of respondents believe that government incentives, such as tax breaks for companies that hire and train apprentices and interns, along with partnerships between industries and educational institutions (46 per cent), are the most effective way to solve the skills shortage and help fill this skills gap. 


When asked what the fastest way to solve the skills shortage is, the highest number of respondents believed in opting for cheaper/free TAFE or university courses (22 per cent), followed by accepting a higher number of skilled migrants (12 per cent). 


The survey reported that Australians are least in favour of companies outsourcing work to offshore teams (chosen by only 7 per cent of respondents), demonstrating a strong desire for jobs to remain onshore in Australia. 


That was closely followed by just 10 per cent of respondents feeling an increase in AI and tech to replace human resources will help solve the skills shortage, showing that Australians are not keen to rely on automation and digitalisation as a solution to the problem. 


The full results of the survey can be found here

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