The Victorian state budget was released on 27 May. The big winner is TAFE.

Here is what the budget has in store for vocational education in Victoria over the next year.

Rebuilding TAFE

Last year’s budget included $172 million to make priority TAFE and pre-apprenticeship courses free, as we reported in May last year. This new budget builds on it.

The treasurer’s speech this year continues the Andrew’s Labor Government to rebuilding TAFE with a further injection of $132 million.

But we have dug a bit deeper into the budget papers to see how this injection will be spent. The 2019-20 Strategy and Outlook budget paper points to:

“$82.7 million to continue to support eligible students to access subsidised training and develop skills in the TAFE and training system, including through the Asylum Seeker Vocational Education and Training program;

$57 million for a new Building Better TAFEs Fund to build bigger and better facilities around Victoria and improve lifelong educational pathways;

$41.2 million to respond to strong demand for Free TAFE; and

$28.5 million to provide Free TAFE for early childhood courses to support the roll out of three-year old kinder.”

This year as part of the suburban spending priorities the Building Better TAFEs Fund will provide a further $10.7 million to redevelop the Box Hill Institute Lilydale Campus’s  Integrated Centre for Sustainable Construction Technologies, fund the plan and design to modernise Melbourne Polytechnic’s Colling wood campus and kick start planning on stage two of the redevelopment of Chisholm Institute’s Frankston campus to provide new student learning spaces.

In the budget’s  rural and regional spending priorities, $46.3 million will be made available to upgrade and redevelop TAFE facilities, including$23.5 million for new state-of-the-art training facilities for cookery and hospitality students at The Gordon in Geelong, $20.3 million for a new library and learning hub at South West TAFE’s Warrnambool campus and $2.5 million to deliver a new facility for health and community services training at GOTAFE in Seymour.

Other winners

There are other winners too, with $8.8 million budgeted to expand Jobs Bank and the Jobs Victoria Employment Network to help long-term and disadvantaged jobseekers find work with additional support. In addition, $7.2 million has been allocated “to meet the demand for qualified shearers and upgrade agricultural colleges at Longerenong, Dookie and Glenormiston.”

There are a range of scholarships on offer, with $500,000 available regionally to continue the Young Farmers Scholarship and a further $1 million to be used state-wide “to make 100 scholarships available to hospital cooks, cleaners, orderlies, security guards, administrative workers and other frontline staff to grow their careers in the health sector.”

A focus on higher apprenticeships

The Government will work with industry and training providers to develop new Big Build Apprenticeships and Victoria Cares Apprenticeships. And, as the treasurer pointed out in his speech:

“These higher qualification apprenticeships will ensure our Big Build and social services sectors are underpinned by a highly skilled workforce.”

The budget has promised $5.6 million to develop this new style of higher apprenticeship. Its aim is to give students “the opportunity to study and learn on the job, just like the other more traditional apprenticeships.”

Of course, higher apprenticeships are not a new topic for VDC News and Higher apprenticeships: a never-ending story? in this issue summarises a recent NCVER report on the topic.