Free TAFE not ‘fix all’

A Perth job expert says a move to create 180,000 free courses at TAFE will not fix current job shortage woes.

The announcement for the fee-free courses was made by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at the Jobs and Skills Summit in Canberra.

The decision, which will apply to a number of TAFE course in 2023, is designed to combat the skilled worker shortage.

TAFE students in Perth studying outside welcome the sun and fee-free TAFE courses. Photo: Huia Karaitiana.

Perth-based recruitment manager Mark Jensen says free TAFE places is not the immediate solution for WA’s skilled worker shortage.

“The TAFE thing would be a three, four, five-year solution when people are finished doing their trades in that TAFE course. It’s a step in the right direction but it’s not a quick fix,” he says.

As the cost of living rises, TAFE students in Perth are welcoming the free-fee TAFE courses.  

North Metropolitan TAFE students approve of the 180,000 fee-free TAFE courses set to start next year. Video: Huia Karaitiana.

Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Wilcox says the skills package will need to include evidence of improved completion rates for all apprenticeships and traineeships through incentives.

“This is a positive outcome of the talks between the Commonwealth government and all states and territories,” she says.

“The great challenge for TAFE will be building up its capacity to meet this increased demand while ensuring TAFEs are delivering the right skills that businesses need,” he says.

Mr Jensen says this is the time for young adults to be starting their careers.

“For young people wanting to start a career there’s a no better time because there’s a shortage. They just need to reach out and grab them.”

Listen to more with Mark Jensen.

Mr Jensen says higher pay isn’t the answer to the skilled worker shortage.

“There’s a skill shortage, wages have been inflated and not for the better for companies.

“It’s not sustainable for businesses to keep paying the inflated rate … if there was more skilled people available then wages would stay the same.”

Perth Metropolitan TAFE welcomes students to enrol in their courses. Photo: Huia Karaitiana.