SA Vocational Training Hits 72,000 Students, Decade High

SA Gov

More students are training in the state's priority industries of construction and electrotechnology, early childhood and health care, a new report from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) shows.

The NCVER's Government-funded Students and VET Activity report – which covers the 2023 calendar year when South Australia's Fee-Free-TAFE initiative was implemented – shows there were 72,095 government-funded vocational education students, a 5 per cent increase from 68,640 in 2022.

The number of students is the largest in almost a decade.

It also shows significant increases in government-funded program enrolments, hours of delivery and subject enrolments.

Qualification completions are also up – 19,900 compared to 18,500 in 2022. This follows South Australia's nation-leading work to lift completions in trades across the board by focusing on mentoring and wrap-around support for those in training.

TAFE SA was boosted by an 11.3 per cent increase in 2023, with an additional 3,515 students, 3 percentage points above the national increase of 8.3 per cent and the third largest percentage increase in the nation.

It comes as the Malinauskas Labor Government reprioritises TAFE SA by placing it at the centre of the skills system to deliver on government priorities, ensure regional communities have access to training, and drive collaboration with other training providers.

There's also been growth in the adult community education sector. Budget papers show the previous government implemented $1m in savings to the sector in 2019 which correlates with a decline in numbers. The Malinauskas Labor Government reinstated that funding with numbers once again on the rise.

The top program enrolments were for Certificate III qualifications in Individual Support, Electrotechnology, and Early Childhood Education and Care; while a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment and a Certificate IV in Information Technology remained popular.

Overall, there were notable increases in:

  • Construction and electrotechnology - up 4.8 per cent to 12,345
  • Program enrolments – up 3.7 per cent to 77,470
  • Qualifications completed – up by 2.2 per cent to 18,870
  • Female students – up by 4.2 per cent
  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander students – up by 9.8 per cent
  • Students with disability – up by 8.1 per cent
  • Students from regional and remote locations – up by 2.1 per cent
  • Young people (24 years and under) – up by 3.6 per cent
  • Students attending school – up by 10.7 per cent
  • Students studying courses at Certificate III level and above – up by 5.1 per cent

The Malinauskas Labor Government has made significant investments in the skills sector, unlike anything the state has ever seen. These include the signing of the $2.3 billion National Skills Agreement (NSA), including Fee-Free TAFE, funding for five new regional skills centres and a boost in funding for training providers to address skills shortages.

The report is a summary of data relating to students, programs, subjects and training providers in Australia's government-funded VET system in 2023. To view the full report:

As put by Susan Close

South Australia recorded more than 72,000 government-funded students in 2023, an increase of 5 per cent from the previous year.

We are in the midst of a skills shortage nationally, so to see the investment in the sector reflected in a higher number of students taking up courses in those critical areas, is really important. Particularly with the recently announced Housing Roadmap - there has never been more of a demand for those in the building and construction sector.

The Fee-Free TAFE initiative – a key part of the $2.3 billion National Skills Agreement – will see a further 4,000 additional places available at TAFE SA each year for the next three years. This will further support industries facing skills shortages, growth industries and emerging.

Increasing the skilled workforce to meet industry demand, both now and in the future, continues to be a key focus of this government.

As put by South Australian Skills Commissioner Cameron Baker

Having students enrolled and taking up critical training places is important for the growth of South Australia's economy.

It's especially encouraging to see the number of female students, Aboriginal students and individuals living with a disability also on the rise. Opportunities in training need to be made available to everyone.

I'm also pleased to see the continued increase in the number of completions. While commencements are important, we will only start addressing areas of critical workforce shortages if we continue to see completions rise.

As put by FCTA – Building Careers Chief Executive Trisch Baff

We've seen a huge increase in apprentices coming through our doors over the past four years with our completion rates higher than the national average.

The industry is calling out for bricklayers and we can't keep up with demand so we must encourage young people to consider this as an opportunity where they can work the hours they want, in a long-term, financially secure career.

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