Thousands of Victorians are signing up for Free TAFE courses to improve their employability in a post COVID-19 world.

They’re taking advantage of the Victorian Government’s Free TAFE for Priority Courses program. The scheme launched in 2019 and was expanded in June this year by an additional 10,000 places.

The program funds studies for Victoria’s future high-demand jobs.

“We’re giving Victorians workers and industry the skills they need to help us rebuild from coronavirus,” said Gayle Tierney, Minister for Training and Skills and Higher Education.

Students across Victoria are snapping up the Free TAFE courses. Enrolments at TAFEs almost doubled in the first year, particularly among women, young people and mature-aged students.

Recently, the government added $163 million to its initial $172 million investment in the scheme. The latest courses to be added to the list include qualifications in health, mental health, the NDIS and construction.

Dire straits for Aussie jobs

The expansion to the Free TAFE program will come as a lifeline to many whose lives have been turned upside down by the pandemic.  

Recent data from Seek shows that 8 out of 10 people have had their work impacted by COVID-19.

Speaking to the true depths of the crisis, the same research also shows 1 out of 4 people are working fewer hours.

Current unemployment rates are particularly grim for casual and contract workers, often in the younger age group. Of casual workers, 1 out of 3 have lost their jobs and 1 out of 5 contractors have lost their jobs since COVID-19.

A good time to upskill

Despite the fallout from the pandemic, we are seeing some positive trends.

The Seek research shows some industries have a growing demand for workers. These include healthcare, transport and IT.

And according to government predictions, job growth is forecast for health, construction, education and professional, scientific and technical services.

For workers who’ve lost jobs due to COVID-19, this could be the perfect time to retrain or upskill.

Through opportunities like the Free TAFE program, people can more easily shift from weakening industries to in-demand ones.

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