The Australian Government has committed to an additional 180,000 fee-free TAFE places in 2023 after reaching an agreement with states and territories during last week’s national cabinet meeting.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced the $1.1 billion arrangement during his opening address to the National Jobs and Skills Summit in Canberra. The cost will be shared with all states and territories, with the programme to begin on 1 January 2023.
“In recognition of the urgent challenges facing our nation, we are taking action now with a billion-dollar training blitz driven by public TAFE,” Albanese said. “We want to see more Australians gaining the skills they need to find good jobs in areas of national priority.”
The government also said that it will increase the permanent migration intake from 160,000 to 195,000 this year, following recent calls to raise the figure to 200,000. Announcing the increase on day two of the Jobs and Skills Summit in Canberra, Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil said the size of the migration programme has been “a huge focus”.
“We have run more than 100 roundtables and spoken to many stakeholders in this room,” O’Neil said, adding that almost everyone agrees that the permanent migration number needs to be lifted this year.
According to O’Neil, the increase will mean 34,000 places in the regions – 9000 more than previously announced – and a lift in state- and territory-sponsored visas from 11,000 last year to 31,000.
“We’ve made that decision based on the discussions we have had and the urging of people in this room. That is your voice being reflected,” O’Neil said.
I want to emphasise that one of Labor’s priorities is to move away from the focus on short-term migrants toward permanency, citizenship, and nation-building,” she added.
The government will also commit $36.1 million to clear the visa application backlog. To help accelerate visa application approvals, 500 additional staff will be recruited over the next nine months.
“This will help deliver the permanent migration programme that my friend Minister O’Neil announced,” said Andrew Giles, Immigration Minister. “We want – indeed we need – people to choose Australia, and our processes and our policies must work together to support that choice.”
Giles said the government has processed around 100,000 visas since winning the election in May this year, reducing the number outstanding to 900,000.