More than 1300 Gippsland students take up free TAFE

Senator for Victoria Jess Walsh (right) and Gippsland TAFE early childhood education student, Shye.

MORE than 1300 Gippsland students have taken up free courses at Gippsland TAFE.

Labor Victorian Senator, Jess Walsh, met with free TAFE students late August at Gippsland TAFE’s Morwell campus to see the program’s impact first-hand.

This year, apart from 1300 student enrolments, Gippsland TAFE has registered a 15 per cent increase in enrolments since last year.

The federal government says its free TAFE program has exceeded its target of 180,000, with more than 200,000 students enrolled so far.

The government will fund another 300,000 more places over the next three years with the aim to ease the financial burden on students while addressing skill shortages across a range of industries.

During her visit, Senator Walsh met with students in free TAFE courses ranging from early childhood education and allied health to vocational trades.

This included Shye, a grandmother who after retiring as a ward clerk decided to retrain and take on a new career as an early childhood educator.

“Retirement wasn’t for me,” Shye said. “I think free TAFE is wonderful – it’s never too late to retrain and start again.

“There’s nothing more important than being a part of these little lives that are our future.”

Senator Walsh said most students in the room told her they wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for free TAFE.

“In the coming decades, we know we’re going to need even more early childhood educators and care workers in Gippsland and right across Australia,” Senator Walsh said.

“Instead of retiring, Shye, who is just about to have her 12th grandchild, has rolled up her sleeves to retrain and be a part of a profession she loves.

“Free TAFE allows more people like Shye to get the in-demand skills industries need, without having to worry about the cost.”