Constituency Question- Tafe
FREGON (Mount Waverley) (11:56:47): (931) My constituency question is to the Minister for Training and Skills in the other place, Gayle Tierney, and I ask: how will my constituents enrolled in TAFE benefit from the additional $11.7 million of funding announced for the free TAFE initiative? Before the winter break I was joined in Mount Waverley by the Premier, and we got the chance to visit Holmesglen Waverley campus and see how great the free TAFE initiative has been for the students studying in my electorate. We visited students studying a certificate IV in education support, currently being taught by teacher Debra Christodoulou. When asked by the Premier who in the class was only able to study the course in 2019 because of the free TAFE initiative, many of the class raised their hands. We also got to visit students in the certificate III in commercial cookery course, taught by Trevor Jenkins, and the certificate II in horticulture course, taught by Heike Barker. I will just say in my last 10 seconds here that there are a number of mature-age students coming back to TAFE because of this free TAFE initiative, which is helping them get on with a new career, and it is a fantastic part of the initiative.
Answer: I thank Mr Fregon for his question and his commitment to the access to TAFE and vocational education for all Victorians.
Free TAFE is an opportunity for students who normally could not afford TAFE, or who would find it financially difficult, to do a course that will increase their chances of getting a job, without paying tuition fees.
In the first half of 2019 we have seen more than 25,000 students commence their training in Free TAFE courses. This is a 92 per cent increase in commencements in these courses compared to the same period in 2018.
Students from Mount Waverley along with all those studying or thinking about studying a Free TAFE courses at one of Victorian TAFE institutes will benefit from the additional allocation of $11.7 million.
Free TAFE students who may be struggling with their studies or personal issues are supported by additional staff and services such as counselling, disability support, careers advice and financial counselling. Access to additional staff and services will support Free TAFE students to manage personal challenges and achieve their goals.
I acknowledge your comment on mature age students returning to education because of Free TAFE. At the end of June this year, students over the age of 30 accounted for 47 per cent of Free TAFE students.
I am pleased to see that older Victorians are taking this opportunity to return to study, and I acknowledge that returning to study can be daunting. To make sure Free TAFE students and potential students are starting their Free TAFE journey with the right tools and confidence to finish their qualification and get the jobs they want, we have funded the ACFE Board to develop and deliver learning materials to improve time management, study skills and literacy. These new pre-vocational courses will be available to students who need further assistance in preparing them with the skills needed to commence their Free TAFE course.
To ensure Free TAFE students have the best quality teachers, part of this additional funding will be used to offer teaching scholarships to professionals with industry experience to complete the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment and become TAFE teachers in priority areas.
By attracting and encouraging industry experts to become TAFE teachers we are ensuring Free TAFE students are learning from industry experts with current knowledge and skills of the industry in which Free TAFE students aim to be part of.
-The Hon Gayle Tierney MP, Minister for Training and Skills, Minister for Higher Education