Having reached its allocated 2530 enrolments for 2023, the ACT Government has reached a joint agreement to continue offering fee-free TAFE options at the Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) for the next three years.
The partnership with the Commonwealth Government means another 3600 places will be available from 2024 onwards – the first 600 will be available in semester 1 of 2024.
CIT Interim CEO Christine Robertson said priority learners, such as women in financial hardship, and skill areas in demand would continue to be the focus.
“Vocational education and training can change people’s lives, and Fee-Free TAFE is providing opportunity, especially to priority learners,” she said.
“Students have shared how they may not have even considered vocational education and training if not for the opportunity and accessibility that Fee-Free TAFE has provided them.”
More than 1000 of the fee-free TAFE student enrolments at CIT have been in the care sector, in skilled areas of demand such as childcare, aged care, disability care and community services.
More than 60 per cent (1609) of enrolments were for female students, with 25 for women in building, construction and electronics trades.
There have also been 936 enrolments for students aged between 17 and 24, 215 enrolments for unpaid carers, and 774 enrolments for job seekers.
Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander peoples make up almost 6.5 per cent (163 enrolments) of students in the program, while there were 124 enrolments for people who identify with a disability.
The Certificate IV Cyber Security was the most popular of the courses on offer, with 264 enrolments.
Ms Robertson said she looked forward to seeing more students graduate under the scheme and become the carers, construction supervisors, hospitality staff and digital experts the ACT needs.
“We’ve also had many students graduate from short courses via Fee-Free TAFE, which has set them on the pathway to further education,” she said.
The extra ACT places from 2024 to 2026 will cost $7.36 million.
Skills Minister Chris Steel said this scheme, along with the National Skills Agreement, were central parts of the Territory’s plan to create 300,000 jobs by 2030 or sooner.
“Cyber security was in the top two courses taken up under tranche 1 of the program, which is a key growth industry in the ACT and shows that these places are going where they’re needed,” he said.
“This was just behind early childhood education and care, which is a sector growing as we roll out universal access to three-year-old preschoolers next year.”
Federal Skills and Training Minister Brendan O’Connor said the enrolments in the ACT and nationally showed the initiative was making a difference.
“Fee-Free TAFE puts ACT students on a path to rewarding and fulfilling lifelong careers while also substantially benefitting the communities they live in,” he said.
“Fee-Free TAFE and VET have been such a success that we’re committing a further $414.1 million to deliver an additional 300,000 places nationally beginning next year.”
The sustainable energy sector has also been flagged as a key sector that will need more skilled workers in the coming years.
Applications for CIT Fee-Free TAFE places in semester 1, 2024, open Monday, 13 November 2023, with prospective students encouraged to apply early.
The CIT Open Day will be held on Friday, 17 November, at the CIT Reid, Bruce and Fyshwick campuses, where prospective students can find out more about course options and eligibility.