Ms TIERNEY (Western Victoria—Minister for Training and Skills, Minister for Higher Education) (11:25): I am pleased to rise and update the chamber on the fantastic success of free TAFE in getting Victorians into jobs and giving more Victorians access to training. Labor is the party of TAFE. We are the party that invests in TAFE and a government that invest very strongly in TAFE, providing the best training in the best facilities with the best teachers, and free TAFE is such an important part of this. Now in its second year, free TAFE continues to change lives.
I want to share with the chamber some of the important outcomes of free TAFE. There were more than 70 000 enrolments in free TAFE courses in 2020, building on nearly 40 000 commencements in 2019. That means more women in free TAFE courses, more learners with a disability, more culturally and linguistically diverse students and more unemployed Victorians looking to find new work. One of the proudest achievements of free TAFE in 2020 has been adding the certificate III and the diploma of early childhood education to the free TAFE list. The outcomes speak for themselves, with a doubling of enrolments in these courses. This is exactly what we need to fill the pipeline of workers needed to roll out three-year-old kindergarten.
Some of the most important courses in 2020 were nursing, community services, building and construction, disability and cybersecurity—courses that are aligned to where the jobs are. Importantly students have saved $150 million in course fees since free TAFE started. That means more Victorians being able to access TAFE because the cost barrier is not there. Free TAFE changes lives and gives Victorians pathways to meaningful careers, and that is why we back it.