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Successful fee-free TAFE at CDU extended to close more skills gaps in the NT

2024 Fee-free TAFE announcement
L to R: CDU Pro Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive (CDU TAFE) Mike Hamilton, Chief Minister of the Northern Territory Eva Lawler, Minister for Skills, Jobs and Training Joel Bowden, and CDU Vice-Chancellor Professor Scott Bowman.

The fee-free TAFE program returns to CDU with more than 60 courses offered to ensure the Northern Territory has the skilled workforce it needs. 

In partnership with the Commonwealth and Northern Territory governments, the initiative is designed to enhance the skills of Territorians and alleviate the financial pressures of living costs.

Between 2024-2026 an additional 2,200 free TAFE training placements will be made available to support Territorians to study. 

CDU TAFE courses will span over various sectors including aged care, early childhood education, agriculture, hospitality and tourism, and construction.

CDU Vice-Chancellor Professor Scott Bowman said the diversity of courses available will enhance the University’s supportive career pathways.

“Fee-free places gave CDU TAFE a great boost after its launch last year,” Professor Bowman said.

“It is promising to see the fee-free TAFE program expand and focus on supporting courses to help address skills shortages in the Territory, such as aged care, childcare and the primary industries.

“We look forward to seeing the impact of fee-free TAFE places for this year. Some of these students may be inspired to expand their knowledge through degree education and others will make an immediate difference to the Northern Territory’s available skills base.”

In 2023, 600 students from across the NT were enrolled in fee-free TAFE courses at CDU, with the most common industries studied being agriculture, business, and the care sector.

To date, about 250 students have completed, and more than 300 students are continuing their programs.

Chief Minister Eva Lawler said fee-free TAFE removes the financial barriers for Territorians wanting to undertake further study, upskill or reskill.

“The Territory Labor Government will always invest in programs which save Territorians money, and ease cost of living pressures, while also breaking the cycle of poverty, by providing quality education opportunities.” Ms Lawler said.

“This initiative also ensures that businesses have the workforce that they need now and into the future and help fill critical skill shortages by upskilling Territorians.”

Through fee-free TAFE courses, students can engage in nationally accredited diploma, certificate, or short courses, positioning themselves for success in rapidly growing industries.

NT Minister for Business, Jobs and Training Joel Bowden said the program prioritises students who may face barriers in accessing VET courses.

“Free TAFE prioritises training for students who may face barriers accessing VET courses including First Nations Australians, unpaid carers, women facing economic insecurity, people with a disability, young people and people who are out of work and may be receiving income support payments,” Mr Bowden said.

Member for Solomon Luke Gosling said fee-free TAFE places had already made an impact across the nation.

“Fee-Free TAFE was a key election commitment as part of the Albanese Government’s plan for a Future Made in Australia, and we’re delivering on this commitment in collaboration with the state and territory governments.

“After smashing our initial Fee-Free TAFE target of 180,000 enrolments in 2023 (with almost 300,000 enrolments as at September 30), we’re rolling out an additional 300,000 places in 2024 – including 2,200 in the Northern Territory," Mr Gosling said.

Visit fee-free TAFE courses at CDU to apply or NT government free training courses for more information.

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