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Changes to free TAFE across the state

By Ashlea Witoslawski

The Victorian Government's free TAFE initiative will undergo changes next year, altering the offerings of Goulburn Ovens Institute of TAFE.

As the second year of the free TAFE initiative rolls out, the government has instructed TAFEs and Registered Training Organisations to manage enrollments across six currently free courses and two ‘non-free’ courses to identify whether they are sustainable and essential for Victoria's job prospects.

GOTAFE offers the two non-free courses and four of the free TAFE courses and will be limiting enrollments to align with training and employment outcomes.

The institute will also offer two new priority courses — the Diploma and Certificate III of Early Childhood Education and Care — which have been added by the Victorian Government in order to deliver on its 2018 election promise of providing at least five hours of subsidised three-year-old kinder by 2022.

GOTAFE chief executive officer Travis Heeney said more than 1500 students had taken advantage of free TAFE funding this year.

“The Victorian Government’s free TAFE initiative continues to remove financial barriers for students, opening the door for more people to gain access to skills and training locally,” Mr Heeney said.

“The inclusion of the Early Childhood Education and Care qualifications under the free TAFE program is extremely positive for the region, and GOTAFE and anticipates high demand in 2020.”

As part of the 2018-19 state budget, $172 million was allocated to fund 30 priority TAFE courses and 18 pre-apprenticeship courses from the beginning of 2019.

Study areas already include agriculture and horticulture, accounting and business, building and construction, community service and mental health, education support, engineering and IT, hospitality, nursing and allied health, and art and design.

Another mental health course has also been added to the 2020 free TAFE list in accordance with the findings from the mental health royal commission interim report.

Training and Skills Minister Gayle Tierney said the first year of the free TAFE offerings had been a success, with more than 36 000 students enrolling in priority courses across the state.

“From the very beginning, free TAFE has been about filling skills gaps and getting more Victorians into work,” Ms Tierney said.

“As those needs shift, and as the industries in demand change, it’s only appropriate our focus does too.”

In 2020, all TAFEs will receive a dedicated free TAFE budget to ensure they can tailor course allocations to local needs.

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