NSW Election 2019

In the lead up to the NSW election, Adult Learning Australia contacted the NSW caketaker Government and
NSW Labor for their policy positions on the role of community education providers in NSW VET service provision.


“Regarding the recent announcement that the NSW Liberals & Nationals in Government will deliver more free TAFE and VET courses. 

“Through Smart and Skilled, fee-free VET courses are available to apprentices and disadvantaged students in priority groups and industries. This recent announcement would add an additional 100,000 fee-free VET courses over the next four years. 70,000 traineeships will be made fee-free, and a further 30,000 free courses for mature aged workers who wish to retrain or re-enter the workforce.

“Similar to our fee-free apprenticeships initiative, traineeship courses will be available through approved Smart and Skilled providers, including TAFE NSW, but also at community colleges, industry-based providers and non-government providers. Currently, 80% of apprenticeships are delivered through TAFE, while TAFE delivers only 17% of traineeships.

“Free courses for mature aged workers will only be available through TAFE NSW. In addition to the free training, mature aged workers will receive expert careers counselling from TAFE NSW staff. Counsellors will assist individuals to identify the courses and training that best align with their career needs.”

Office of John Barilaro MP
Deputy Premier
Minister for Regional NSW | Minister for Skills | Minister for Small Business


“Labor will make TAFE free for courses in skills shortage areas. This policy will offfer more than 600,000 fee-free TAFE places over the next decade and will be offered for all certificate level courses in areas where there are skills shortages, such as childcare, aged care, disability care, construction, plumbing and the electrical trades.

“Labor will reserve at least 70% of all government VET funding for TAFE. This will means a guaranteed funding future for the institution. And it will mean that all private training providers will need to compete with one another (not with TAFE) for a maximum of 30%.

“Good RTOs that can jump through the hoops that the public believes are necessary for the receipt of public funding will still be afforded support from the government. We will only be funding the good RTOs, not the bad ones. There will in fact be a larger share of the pie for training companies who will complement the work of TAFE NSW and offer things that TAFE cannot.

“NSW Labor values the importance adult and community education providers as meaningful pathways to work and further training. A NSW Labor Government will work with the sector to ensure the ongoing viability of adult learning and to ensure it has a place in the VET system.”

Read NSW Labor Skills Policy.

Prudence Car MP
Shadow Minister for TAFE and Skills


Community education organisations play a significant role in VET for high proportions of learners who are disadvantaged, disengaged, unemployed, have a disability or did not complete Year 12 or equivalent. They transition more unemployed people into work and outrank other VET providers in levels of satisfaction with the quality of the training and the relevance of the training to their job.

In some communities, the community education sector represents the only ‘on-the-ground’ providers of post-compulsory education, and is therefore critically important in terms of addressing access and equity beyond urban centres.

In a submission to the VET Review, Adult Learning Australia identified that it was a “significant policy failure to allow the successful ACE model to diminish”. The sector should actually be optimised to play a much greater role in supporting adults and workplaces with their training needs; particularly disadvantaged cohorts.

In order for the VET system to remain relevant and sustainable into the future ACE RTOs must be maintained to a minimum of 10–15% of the total VET market to ensure the VET system is viable and works for everyone seeking vocational education and training.

ALA encourages all NSW members to call or contact candidates in their communities to make sure they understand the important role that community education plays.