Fee-Free TAFE initiative boosting ECEC numbers in NSW
The Sector > Quality > Professional development > Fee-Free TAFE initiative boosting ECEC numbers in NSW

Fee-Free TAFE initiative boosting ECEC numbers in NSW

by Freya Lucas

April 10, 2024

New figures have shown that 182,124 people in New South Wales enrolled in Fee-Free TAFE during 2023, smashing the initial first-year target, with ‘a very encouraging number’ of people taking up study in areas like early childhood education and care (ECEC). 


The initiative is a combination of state and federal funding, and aims to remove financial barriers so that more people in NSW can learn new skills in areas of high occupational demand.  


As of 31 December 2023, there were over:  


  • 34,630 enrolments in the Care sector
  • 9651 in the Technology and Digital sector
  • 8728 in the Construction sector.


Priority groups were strongly represented with the enrolment of 62,925 job seekers, nearly 10,000 people with disability and more than 15,154 First Nations people.


118,620 enrolments were women and students from regional and remote areas numbered more than 70,000.


Almost 50,000 people in NSW who speak a language other than English at home also took advantage of Fee-Free TAFE.


A student studying to become an early childhood educator would save $1600 in course fees through the Fee-Free TAFE initiative. 


“The initiative has helped ease cost-of-living pressures for students and is helping respond to the worst skills crisis we have experienced in 50 years,” Minister for Skills and Training, Brendan O’Connor MP said. 


“Fee-Free TAFE is helping people in NSW, and across Australia, to acquire skills to ensure they have meaningful work, well-paid jobs and career progression.”

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