Labor’s Plan

A Shorten Labor Government will invest in TAFE and apprenticeships and ensure Australians have the skills they need to succeed in our changing economy.

Labor will:

• Guarantee two out of three public vocational education dollars go to TAFE.

• Waive upfront fees for 100,000 students to attend TAFE.

• Invest $100 million in modernising TAFE facilities around the country.

• Ensure one in every ten jobs on Commonwealth priority projects are filled by Australians apprentices

• Provide 10,000 pre-apprentice programs for young people who want to learn a trade

• Provide 20,000 adult apprentice programs for older workers who want or need to retrain

• Establish a National Commission of Review into Post-secondary education within the first 100 days of government.

Labor’s plan has a budget impact of $473 million over the forward estimates and $708 million over the medium term.


Labor’s plan will put TAFE at the centre of our vocational education system and make it easier for Australians to get the education and skills they need for a good working life.

TAFE Fee Waiver

Labor will waive the upfront fees for 100,000 students, enabling them to attend TAFE to get the education and training they need to assist them in the world of work.

Course fees and upfront costs have risen to the point where there are people that can’t afford to go to TAFE.

Many trades face skills shortages: from carpenters and bricklayers, to bakers and pastry cooks. But despite high unemployment in some areas, workers can’t learn the skills they need locally, particularly in regional areas.

If we don’t get this right, we won’t have enough skilled workers to meet the demands of our ageing population and the rollout of the NDIS, nor the workers with the high tech skills to work in emerging industries.

We know that TAFE is the best place for young and adult Australians to gain the knowledge and skills, in the communities that benefit from them.

[Note: In the case of Diploma and Advanced Diploma courses in priority areas that are eligible for VET Student Loan assistance, the waiver will cover the upfront fees the student would incur (ie those out of pocket fees above the Loan limit). Labor will examine the fairness and effectiveness of the VET Student Loan scheme as part of the National Review of Post-secondary Education.]

Building TAFE for the Future

Labor will invest $100 million in a Building TAFE for the Future Fund, to reverse the decline in TAFE facilities, and revitalise TAFE campuses across Australia. The Building TAFE for the Future Fund will:

• Re-establish TAFE facilities in regional communities that have lost campuses or course facilities

• Establish new facilities in regions and suburbs where the population is growing and industry is changing or expanding

• Provide facilities and equipment to support up-to-date teaching in the digital economy and technology

• Support expanded course offerings and new areas of study that meet the needs of the local community and industry

Investment in TAFE infrastructure will ensure Australians have access to the best possible preparation for a rapidly changing world of work.

Labor’s TAFE Guarantee

TAFE is the custodian of quality in our vocational education system.

Skilled workers help the economy grow and make us all more prosperous.

TAFE provides pathways for millions of Australians into fulfilling work and further study.

A Shorten Labor Government will invest in better training and enduring careers for Australians by guaranteeing TAFE at least two thirds of public funding.

States and territories will need to:

• Guarantee TAFE at least two thirds of State and Territory funding and, at a minimum, maintain investment levels

• Prioritise education and training that set people up for good working lives

• And keeping quality regional campuses open to support industry and the community

Labor will reverse the decline of TAFE and make sure quality vocational education is available in our suburbs and regions.

Labor will support non-TAFE providers delivering high quality specialist training, particularly those in the not-for-profit and community education sectors.


For generations Australians have followed the trusted path into decent work through an apprenticeship. They provide young people with the opportunity to build prosperous working lives, as well as re-training for experienced workers seeking to reskill throughout their career.

Jobs for Apprentices

A Shorten Labor Government will boost apprentice numbers across the country on Government funded projects.

At least 1 in 10 jobs on all major infrastructure and defence projects will be filled by an apprentice.

We’ll only fund projects where major contractors have an Apprenticeship and Training Plan that link in with local TAFEs and provides skills to workers living locally.

Labor will also work to deliver 1 in 10 apprentices on priority projects already underway – like the NBN and in Government Enterprises like the Australian Rail Track Corporation.

Apprentice Ready

Knowing what you want to do before you start work is tricky. It’s one of the reasons young apprentices don’t finish their apprenticeship.

Giving young people the chance to try a range of work options leads to better choices and results in more apprentices qualifying in their trade.

Labor will help 10,000 young job seekers choose the best apprenticeship for them by providing nationally recognised, industry endorsed 20 week pre-apprenticeship training.

Places will be available to young people who have been unemployed for six months or more and will be delivered through TAFEs where local employers are on board, and there is the opportunity for ongoing work.

Advanced Entry Adult Apprenticeships

A trade apprenticeship takes three or four years to complete. That’s a long time to spend on training wages for workers who want or need to change jobs.

A Shorten Labor Government will fast-track quality trade apprenticeships for up to 20,000 adults who need to retrain because of changes in the economy.

Workers will be given credit for their existing skills and provided with training at TAFE to fill the gaps.

These apprenticeships will be available in trades that are in demand.


Labor will establish a once in a generation National Commission of Review which will examine all aspects of Australia’s post-secondary education system. It will examine and make recommendations about how our vocational and higher education systems address the country’s economic and societal needs.

The Review will be inclusive and commence with an inquiry into the structure of the vocational education and training system, including curriculum, pedagogy, assessment, funding and quality assurance. Critically, it will examine the role of TAFE – which Labor has committed will be at the centre of Australia’s future vocational education system.

Labor will appoint a panel of eminent experts, educators, unionists and members of the business community to advise on the scope and terms of reference.

This will be the first time a national inquiry has put TAFE and unis on an equal footing.

Updated: 1 September 2018