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Free TAFE for priority courses gives more Victorians the chance to study at TAFE.

More than ever, the skills we need to build our state are learned at TAFE.

Free TAFE for priority courses reduces financial barriers for students. Students can train in courses that lead to jobs in demand from Victorian employers.

Free TAFE for priority courses began on 1 January 2019. At the end of its first year, more than 39,700 students had commenced in Free TAFE courses across the TAFE network.

In January 2020, two new early childhood courses were added to the Free TAFE course list. In Semester Two 2020, three new Free TAFE courses, as well as one skill set free at TAFE, were added in priority areas with in-demand jobs. The 2020/21 Victorian State Budget included funding for up to 60,000 additional Free TAFE places to give Victorians greater access to training and skills as the State recovers from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

Free TAFE for priority courses covers tuition fees for students who are eligible for government-subsidised training.

Eligibility

  • Any Australian citizen or permanent resident or a New Zealand citizen is eligible to do one Free TAFE for priority course in Victoria if they meet the following criteria:

    • under 20 or upskilling
    • aged under 20 (regardless of any other qualifications they might hold)
    • are 20 or older and enrolling in a course that is a higher qualification than the highest qualification previously attained
    • Victorians who need additional support

    Victorians who are:

    • unemployed and clients of the Jobs Victoria Employment Network
    • retrenched workers
    • automotive supply chain workers
    • looking to change careers

    Victorians who want to reskill, change careers, improve their employment prospects and/or meet the needs of local industries, subject to availability of TAFE places, and prioritised based on need. It is expected that priority will be given to people impacted by the coronavirus, such as women, young people and migrants, and other vulnerable people.

Free TAFE course list

Jobs

  • With the introduction of Three-Year-Old Kindergarten there is a need for more early childhood educators in Victoria. It is expected that over 2,000 new early childhood educators will be required by 2029.

    Free TAFE will train early childhood educators for in-demand jobs, including:

    • Child Care Centre Manager
    • Child Care Worker
    • Child Care Group Leader
    • Child Care Coordinator
    • Child Care Centre Director
    • Family Day Care Worker

    Free courses

  • Whether it's a small business or major infrastructure project, skilled workers are required to meet the growing demand in Victoria's construction and infrastructure industry. Free TAFE will train skilled workers for in-demand jobs, including:

    • Earthmoving plant operators
    • Labourers
    • Concreters
    • Plasterers
    • Rail track workers
    • Roof tilers
    • Wall and floor tilers
    • Plumbers
    • Construction managers
    • Architectural, building and surveying technicians
    • Structure steel and welding trades workers

    Check out the free courses to support in-demand jobs in the construction and infrastructure industry.

    Free courses

    Certificate IV in Building and Construction (Building)

    Diploma of Building and Construction (Building)

    Advanced Diploma of Building Surveying

    Certificate III in Civil Construction

    Certificate IV in Civil Construction Supervision

    Certificate III in Concreting

    Certificate III in Construction Waterproofing

    Certificate IV in Engineering

    Certificate IV in Plumbing and Service

    Certificate III in Rail Infrastructure

    Free apprenticeship pathway courses

    Certificate II in Building and Construction pre apprenticeship

    Certificate II in Construction Pathways

    Certificate II in Engineering Pathways

    Certificate II in Engineering Studies

    Certificate II in Furniture Making

    Certificate II in Glass and Glazing

    Certificate II in Plumbing pre apprenticeship

    Other courses in construction and infrastructure

    The Victorian Skills Gateway has all the courses available at Victoria’s TAFEs, including even more in construction and infrastructure.

    Aimee's story

    Aimee

    "I don’t think I’d have a job today if I didn’t have my pre-apprenticeship. It helped me get the hands-on skills and work experience that employers want."

    Award-winning plumber Aimee Stanton went from disengaged high school student and one-time beauty therapist to finding her calling when she enrolled in a Certificate II Plumbing Pre-apprenticeship at Swinburne TAFE.

    Being the only woman in her plumbing course was hard, but Aimee stayed tough.

    “I didn’t want to be treated differently because I was a girl - I wanted to do everything and anything.

    Aimee says practical learning and the facilities at her TAFE, like welding bays and sandpits for digging trenches, prepared her for work.

    “When people think about education they think of sitting in a classroom.

    “At TAFE, you’re learning every day and you can go off and do all these practical things.”

    Aimee moved on to complete her Certificate III in Plumbing which led her to an apprenticeship.

    When she was a fourth year apprentice, Aimee won the Air Conditioning and Mechanical Contractors Association (AMCA) President’s Award and Best Female Apprentice at Holmesglen TAFE.

    Since then, Aimee landed a job at AG Coombs specialising in Mechanical Plumbing.

    “I don’t think I’d have a job today if I didn’t have my pre-apprenticeship. It helped me get the hands-on skills and work experience that employers want.”

    She says she now realises that other young people today have similar struggles finding their feet.

    “I don’t think kids realise how many opportunities are out there – and with TAFE, you can explore all those opportunities. You don’t just have to go to uni and get a job – there’s so many different things you can do.”

  • Skilled workers in the health sector support the NDIS and family violence prevention workforce, meet the demands of our ageing population and support efforts for greater health and dental access across Victoria.

    Free TAFE courses will support the sector with more skilled graduates to fill in-demand jobs.

    Jobs in this sector include:

    • Aged and disabled carers
    • Enrolled and mothercraft nurses
    • Dental assistants
    • Nursing support workers
    • Personal care workers
    • Welfare support workers

    Check out the free courses to support in-demand jobs in the health sector.

    Free courses

    Certificate IV in Ageing Support

    Certificate IV in Alcohol and Other Drugs

    Certificate III in Allied Health Assistance

    Certificate IV in Allied Health Assistance

    Certificate III in Dental Assisting

    Certificate IV in Dental Assisting

    Certificate IV in Disability

    Certificate III in Individual Support

    Certificate IV in Mental Health

    Diploma of Nursing

    Other courses in health

    The Victorian Skills Gateway has all the courses available at Victoria’s TAFEs, including even more in health.

    Elke's story

    Elke

    Elke Hardy chose a course at Box Hill Institute as her starting point for a rewarding career in nursing.

    She is now an enrolled nurse on rotation in an oncology ward, helping care for people with cancer.

    Elke completed her course as a mature-aged student, and has since taken on further study.

    She recommends the Diploma of Nursing to people of all ages contemplating a career in nursing, saying it taught the skills and knowledge needed to work as an enrolled nurse in a range of health care settings.

  • With a focus on community, and supporting the rollout of the NDIS in Victoria and family violence prevention initiatives, there is a need for skilled workers in the community sector.

    Free TAFE courses will help meet the demand for skilled workers in roles that support the community.

    In-demand jobs include:

    • Welfare support workers
    • Aged and disability carers
    • Nursing support
    • Care workers
    • Welfare, recreation and community arts workers
    • Education aides
    • Counsellors
    • Court and legal clerks

    Check out the free courses to support in-demand jobs in community services.

    Free courses

    Certificate IV in Ageing Support

    Certificate IV in Alcohol and Other Drugs

    Certificate IV in Child, Youth and Family Intervention

    Certificate III in Community Services

    Certificate IV in Community Services

    Diploma of Community Services

    Certificate IV in Disability

    Certificate III in Education Support

    Certificate IV in Education Support

    Certificate III in Individual Support

    Diploma of Justice

    Certificate IV in Mental Health

    Certificate IV in Youth Work

    Other courses in community

    The Victorian Skills Gateway has all the courses available at Victoria’s TAFEs, including even more in the community sector.

    Oly's story

    Oly

    TAFE training helped Oly realise a career where he could use his wealth of lived experience to help young people who were struggling with mental health issues.

    After years of working as a kitchen hand, Oly was looking for a career where he could use his wealth of lived experience to help young people who were struggling with mental health issues.

    After completing a Certificate IV in Mental Health and Alcohol and Other Drugs from Melbourne Polytechnic, Oly is now a valued team member with community mental health service Neami.

    In his role as a peer support worker, Oly draws on his own personal experiences to help young people develop strategies and tactics to deal with their own mental health challenges.

    Oly said studying at TAFE had given him the confidence he needed to successfully pursue a new career path in mental health services.

    'I was so lucky to have such highly skilled and experienced teachers who could take the most complex theoretical ideas and break them down in every day examples that anyone could relate to,' Oly says.

    'The course connected me with the sector and prospective employers, so I always felt confident I would be able to get a job.'

    'The study units gave me such a strong theoretical grounding that I knew I would be able to make a real positive difference in people's lives.'

  • With a focus on supporting the rollout of the NDIS in Victoria there is a need for skilled workers in the disability sector. Free TAFE courses will help meet the demand for skilled workers within a range of disability services and related roles.

    In-demand jobs include:

    • Welfare support workers
    • Disability carers
    • Nursing support
    • Care workers
    • Welfare, recreation and community arts workers
    • Education aides

    Check out the free courses to support in-demand jobs in the disability sector.

    Free courses

    Certificate IV in Disability

    Certificate III in Education Support

    Certificate IV in Education Support

    Certificate III in Individual Support

    Certificate IV in Mental Health

    The following skill set is free at TAFE, though it does not form part of the Free TAFE course list. Taking this skill set will not impact your Free TAFE entitlement.

    Course in Introduction to the National Disability Insurance Scheme

    Other courses in disability

    The Victorian Skills Gateway has all the courses available at Victoria’s TAFEs, including even more in disability services.

    Jessica's story

    Jessica

    'Be the best leader that you can be,' says 18 year old Jessica Turner from Torquay.

    Jessica says she fell in love with the disability sector after volunteering for Access for All Abilities as part of her year 11 studies. The organisation connects people with disabilities to sporting activities in Melbourne.

    Along with her year 12 studies, Jessica also undertook a Certificate III & IV in Community Activities (Sports & Recreation) at SEDA College.

    The highlight of Jessica’s course was the work placements where she went out to schools and had the opportunity to meet a diverse mix of people doing coaching and sport activities.

    Her first placement was with Special Olympics Victoria where she organised sporting activities, medal ceremonies and support for athletes. She believes sports can a positive way to improve daily life, confidence and fitness for people with intellectual disability.

    Dinjerra Primary School gave her an opportunity to engage students of refugee backgrounds, promoting inclusive education and social interactions helping kids learn and make friends.

    Post-placement Jessica took on a volunteer role at Melbourne City Soccer club, coaching people who are blind and deaf to achieve their best in sport and in life.

    Jessica is currently studying a Bachelor of Nursing at Victoria University and she has aspirations to go to medical school.

    She believes studying at TAFE opened new pathways for her and she encourages others to do the same.

    'I was able to finish school with additional skills and practical work experience,' says Jessica.

    'It helped me find a purposeful career direction where I can make a difference.'

  • There is demand for TAFE graduates with skills in the agriculture industry to support the Government’s Food and Fibre Strategy and growth in regional Victoria.

    In-demand jobs include:

    • Crop farm workers
    • Livestock farm workers
    • Crop farmers
    • Livestock farmers
    • Gardeners
    • Garden and Nursery Labourers.

    Check out the free courses to support in-demand jobs in the agriculture industry.

    Free courses

    Certificate II in Agriculture

    Certificate III in Agriculture

    Certificate IV in Agriculture

    Certificate III in Agriculture (Dairy Production)

    Certificate III in Horticulture

    Certificate II in Production Nursery

    Free apprenticeship pathway courses

    Certificate II in Horticulture

    Other courses in agriculture

    The Victorian Skills Gateway has all the courses available at Victoria’s TAFEs, including even more in agriculture.

    Chris' story

    Chris

    Farming is in Chris Gallagher’s blood. His family have been doing it for four generations.

    While the traditional farming methods have been passed down through the generations, his Diploma of Agriculture from Federation University TAFE taught him more about modern technology and business practices.

    Chris' Diploma of Agriculture from Federation University TAFE taught him more about modern technology and business practices.

    “I’ve never known anything else. I grew up on the farm learning from my dad,” he says.

    “But the diploma course has taken my knowledge to the next level. It’s given me lots of ideas of ways we can do things better, how I can invest in the farm’s future.”

    Chris’ family grows potatoes and wheat and keeps lamb and cattle on a 1700 acre farm near Waubra.

    “Most of the time I’m on the farm, putting what I’ve learned into practice. Then, every few weeks I go back to TAFE and teach future farmers.

    With a growing population meaning more hungry mouths, Chris believes the future of farming is both vital and bright.

    “Everyone needs to eat and I want to be part of the answer to meeting increasing demands on the industry.

    “In a way, teaching is a bit like farming, you reap what you sow. TAFE is a great example of investing in people so they can be their best, for themselves and society.”

  • Contribute to Victoria’s visitor economy as part of our famous café, restaurant and tourism sector. Free TAFE courses support in-demand  hospitality jobs in both metro and regional tourism hubs.

    In-demand jobs in this sector include:

    • Bar attendants
    • Baristas
    • Waiters
    • Chef
    • Gallery, museum and tour guides
    • Tourism and travel advisers

    Check out the free courses that are pathways to in-demand jobs in the hospitality and tourism industry.

    Free courses

    Certificate III in Commercial Cookery

    Certificate III in Hospitality

    Certificate III in Tourism

    Free apprenticeship pathway courses

    Certificate II in Meat Processing (Food Services)

    Certificate II in Baking

    Other courses in hospitality and tourism

    The Victorian Skills Gateway has all the courses available at Victoria’s TAFEs, including even more in hospitality and tourism.

    Jessi's story

    Jessi

    Jessi McEwan’s cookery course at GippsTAFE (now Federation Training) set her up as a leading young chef.

    Jessi was named Australia’s first Young Chef Ambassador in 2014, and represented Australia at the World Chefs’ Forum as part of the role.

    The next year, she received a Victorian Young Achiever Award recognising her many culinary achievements.

    Jessi said the training, support and encouragement she received at TAFE had been the perfect base for her career.

  • Skilled workers in professional services support the Government's Professional Services Sector Strategy and Digital Technologies Strategy. Free TAFE responds to demand for Victorians with the skills required for the professional services industry.

    In-demand jobs in this sector include:

    • General Clerks
    • Accounting Clerks
    • Bookkeepers
    • Accountants
    • ICT support technicians
    • Database and systems administrators
    • ICT security specialists

    Check out the free courses that are pathways to in-demand jobs in professional services.

    Free courses

    Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping

    Diploma of Accounting

    Certificate IV in Cyber Security

    Advanced Diploma of Accounting

    Other courses in professional services

    The Victorian Skills Gateway has all courses available at Victoria’s TAFEs, including even more in professional services.

    Nasir's story

    Nasir

    Nasir Ali’s path to a career in accountancy started with a TAFE course at RMIT.

    It helped prepare him for further study, including a business degree and chartered accountancy course.

    Nasir is now a corporate accountant and settlements officer in the grain industry.

    He credits his earlier TAFE studies for empowering him with the skills and knowledge to continue taking steps towards his career goal.

More information

The Victorian Skills Gateway has all the courses available at Victoria’s TAFEs.

Search for TAFE courses

Reviewed 06 January 2021

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