Australia's government has introduced a $12.6 billion five-to expand access to the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector

Australia's government has introduced a $12.6 billion five-to expand access to the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector

Mon Oct 23 2023 Effa Iqbal

Highlights from the article

  • Australia’s $12.6 billion National Skills Agreement transforms access to the VET sector, emphasizing skill development for current and future job opportunities.
  • TAFE institutions take center stage in the initiative, fostering collaboration and aligning training with national priorities.
  • Reforms include TAFE Centres of Excellence and a National Stewardship model to boost skills in critical industries.


Australia’s government has unveiled a transformative $12.6 billion National Skills Agreement (NSA), spanning a five-year horizon, with the primary aim of expanding and reshaping access to the nation’s Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector.

This landmark initiative is poised to significantly impact domestic settings, reflecting the government’s commitment to equipping Australians with contemporary and future job opportunities.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese emphasized the NSA’s alignment with the government’s overarching mission of uniting the country to tackle shared challenges.

He described the agreement as a pivotal step that, in conjunction with the successful Fee-Free TAFE places program, will result in a surge of skilled professionals in various sectors, including boilermakers, chefs, aged care workers, and childcare providers.

Austalia TAFE
This investment isn’t solely about empowering individuals but also fortifying the national economy.

The NSA, slated to take effect in January, will position TAFE (Technical and Further Education) institutions at the core of the VET sector.

Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O’Connor stressed the importance of a high-performing, world-class VET sector, which is essential for fostering a more equitable society and a robust economy.

He noted that the TAFE sector has previously weathered underfunding, deregulation impacts, loose entry regulations for VET markets, a lack of national cohesion, and a disproportionate focus on competition over collaboration. O’Connor’s department recently unveiled an integrity unit to combat non-compliance in the VET sector.

Key reforms under the NSA include the establishment of a TAFE Centres of Excellence network, which will bring together TAFE institutions, universities, Jobs and Skills Councils, and industry representatives on a national scale.

National Stewardship model

Introducing a National Stewardship model will coordinate strategic investments in skills across the economy, aligning them with national priority areas while offering states and territories flexibility to meet local industry-specific skill requirements.

Priority sectors for development are critical and emerging industries like clean energy and net-zero initiatives, manufacturing, national security, food security, construction, care and support services, and digital and technology domains.
International students in Australia

Jenny Dodd, CEO of TAFE Directors Australia, hailed this agreement as a national pact that will bring new life into skills and training.

She highlighted the significance of baseline funding for TAFE, which provides the much-needed stability and confidence for planning across emerging industries and priority occupations.

Additionally, the establishment of Jobs and Skills Australia, alongside the creation of ten new Jobs and Skills Councils, will set the framework to guide all stakeholders in the VET system toward a wealth of training opportunities.

International students in Australia

The government’s move coincides with a Grattan Institute report that cast doubt on the career prospects and visa pathways promised to international students.

For many, this agreement will signal a commitment by Canberra to nurture and bolster local talent to address skill shortages.

With state and territory funding contributions, the VET sector stands to benefit from a total funding pool of over $30 billion, ushering in a new era of skill development and vocational training in Australia.



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