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The Sector > Quality > Professional development > TAFE Centres of Excellence: Government’s new plan to address workforce shortages

TAFE Centres of Excellence: Government’s new plan to address workforce shortages

by Freya Lucas

September 27, 2023

The Federal Government will equip more Australians with the skills of the future by ‘turbocharging’ TAFE Centres of Excellence and accelerating the take up of higher and degree apprenticeships in the priority areas of net zero, care, and digitisation.


In addition to the $325 million that has already been proposed by the Commonwealth Government under the National Skills Agreement for TAFE Centres of Excellence, the Federal Government has announced that it will commit an additional around $41 million, comprising of around $31 million to ‘turbocharge’ the new TAFE Centres of Excellence and approximately $10 million to develop higher and degree apprenticeships.


Details of the funding and changes is outlined in an Employment White Paper, released earlier this week, which outlines how the Commonwealth will increase funding to fast track up to six new TAFE Centres of Excellence under the five-year National Skills Agreement, which is currently being negotiated.


The extra funding will support partnerships between TAFEs, Jobs and Skills Councils, industry and universities to establish TAFE Centres of Excellence, design and teach world leading curriculum and provide students with cutting edge skills.


It forms part of the Federal Government’s efforts to increase the share of Australians in areas of high skills needs, which is a key reform direction outlined in the White Paper. It also supports the Government’s efforts to invest in skills, higher education and lifelong learning.


The intention is to create new degree apprenticeship qualifications and enable TAFEs to deliver new bachelor equivalent higher apprenticeships independent of universities, giving them capacity to provide students with opportunities to gain the advanced skills needed by industries.


“This is about producing more graduates with more of the skills they’ll need to make the most of the big shifts that are shaping our economy into the future – whether it’s the net zero transformation, growth in the care economy or adapting and adopting new technology,” said Treasurer Jim Chalmers.


“It will help to ensure employers get the people they need and workers are the beneficiaries of change in our economy. We’re turbocharging our TAFEs to deliver the highly-trained, highly-sought after workers that we need in the defining decade ahead.”


Early childhood education and care (ECEC) is one of the vocational education and training (VET) pathways where representatives will work with the Government in employment relationships as part of the process meaning that students get the best of classroom and workplace learning and a line of sight to a meaningful job at the end of their training.


The Government is aiming to double higher apprenticeship commencements in the priority areas identified in the White Paper, including ECEC, over five years.


Higher apprenticeships are an innovative skills pathway, ensuring the education and training sector can respond to the skills that industry demands and is responsive and agile.


The reforms will mean that apprentices can get degree-level qualifications and university students can more easily get practical training and skills.


“At its heart, these reforms are about what we need to do now and in the decade ahead, to set the vocational education and training sector up for success and we will continue to develop these reforms through the National Skills Agreement,” said Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O’Connor.


“For the workers of the future it doesn’t necessarily have to be one or the other – TAFE or Uni – it can be a combination of technical skills development and conceptual knowledge.


“We want students of all ages to be able to move more easily between vocational education and higher education to develop skills, boost productivity, and meet the skills challenge that confronts the whole of the economy.”


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