TAFEs should anchor the economic recovery, Centre for Future Work says

Australia’s TAFE system generated economic benefits worth $92.5 billion to the national economy in 2019, according to a new report from the Centre for Future Work.

The report An Investment in Productivity and Inclusion finds despite underfunding and poor outcomes from market-led VET policies, TAFE produces extensive economic and social benefits – 16 times greater than the annual “maintenance” cost Australia currently reinvests in the TAFE system. 

Other findings of the report include:

  • The presence and activity of TAFE institutes ‘anchors’ over $6 billion per year in economic activity and 48,000 jobs from the direct operation of the TAFE system and its supply chain, and ‘downstream’ consumer spending impacts.   
  • The TAFE-trained workforce generates $84.9 billion per year in higher incomes and business productivity. Of this, $49.3 billion is additional earnings to TAFE-credentialed workers (relative to earnings of workers without post-school training) and businesses receive $35.6 billion in increased profits from a more productive workforce trained at TAFE. 
  • The TAFE system increases employability and lowers unemployment. TAFE graduates enter the labour force with better employment prospects and skills. The increased labour force participation and employability of TAFE graduates corresponds to additional employment of 486,000. 
  • TAFEs have a major impact on self-confidence of students. The report says that 40% of TAFE completers between 2016 and 2019 reported they gained confidence from their training (compared with just 29% for private providers). Almost one-third of all TAFE completers reported that they improved their communication skills and made new friends through their training, compared with only 10–14% for private providers. TAFE education also increases the leadership qualities of students with 12% of completers saying that their training made them a role model in their community.
  • The TAFE system promotes wider social benefits critical to addressing inequality. TAFE helps ‘bridge’ access to further education and jobs pathways in regional areas and for special and at-risk youth groups. TAFE students are more likely to come from low-income households and identify as Aboriginal compared with private VET providers.