$57 million recovery package for WA TAFE and training sector

The Western Australian state government is giving a $57 million package for the training sector that will deliver 15 free short courses and slash TAFE fees by as much as 72 per cent for thousands of Western Australians as part of the WA Recovery Plan.

In an expansion of the Lower Fees, Local Skills initiative that rolled out before COVID-19, TAFE fees for a further 39 high priority courses will be slashed by as much as 72 per cent.

The expanded program now includes 73 courses in total and will ensure Western Australians, can access affordable training to help them get back into jobs, after TAFE fees increased by as much as 510 per cent under the previous Liberal National Government.

The heavily reduced fees have been targeted to align with the state’s immediate economic needs following COVID-19.

The program now also includes 27 Certificate courses that will be reduced from between 50 and 67 per cent for areas such as plumbing, agriculture, METRONET courses, construction, electrical trades, health services, fabrication, mental health and disability services.

Six diploma courses – including Diploma of Nursing, Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care and Diploma of Community Services, will have their fees reduced by 72 per cent.

A further six pre-apprenticeship courses will have fees cut by 67 per cent. The pre‑apprenticeships course, which include areas including automotive electrical technology, engineering, plumbing and, building and construction, will prepare students for apprenticeships in industries where there will be demand for skilled workers.

From the second semester, the maximum annual fee students will pay is capped at $400 for concession students and youth and $1,200 for non-concession students.

It is expected that adding a further 39 courses to the Lower Fees, Local Skills initiative will increase annual TAFE enrolments by more than 6,000 students and provide fee relief to more than 27,000 enrolments over the second half of 2020 and during 2021.

The package includes $25 million for ‘Free TAFE Short Courses’ that have been developed in consultation with industry to engage displaced workers, including women and young people, and meet immediate and emerging skill requirements as the economy recovers.

The free short courses will provide a launch-pad for students to up-skill for new jobs and provide pathways to full qualifications.

The initial list of 15 short courses will be available to around 13,500 Western Australians and includes courses in, hospitality, logistics, cyber security, agriculture, civil construction and small business. Many of the short courses have built-in foundation digital skills and literacy and numeracy training.

The free short courses can also be used as a credit towards a full qualification from the expanded Lower Fees, Local Skills initiative.

Enrolments open on Monday July 6, 2020. The TAFE fees announcement is in addition to the new Apprenticeship and Traineeship Re‑engagement Incentive that provides employers with a one-off payment of $6,000 for hiring an apprentice and $3,000 for hiring a trainee whose training contract was terminated on, or after, March 1, 2020.

“TAFE is a major part of Western Australia’s recovery from COVID-19.

“Our training-led plan will prepare Western Australians to get back into jobs to meet the economy’s immediate workforce needs following the impacts of the pandemic,” Premier Mark McGowan said.

“As we continue the recovery process, we will continue to focus on getting Western Australians back to work in areas that will drive economic activity across the state.”

“Training is vital to develop a skilled workforce to support the State’s economic recovery.

“With an additional 39 courses added to the Lower Fees, Local Skills initiative, now is the time to get into training with more than 70 courses available at significantly reduced prices.

“The initial 15 free short courses will enable people to upskill for current and emerging jobs in areas like hospitality, logistics, cyber security, agriculture, civil construction and small business,” Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery said.