Federal budget hits apprenticeships and TAFE, again

The Turnbull Government has once again taken the axe to vocational education and training funding, and has targeted apprentices with earlier student loan repayments.

The Turnbull Government’s budget for 2017/18 lowers the HELP repayment threshold from $55,000 to $42,000 per year, meaning that those earning just $20 per hour will have to give up a portion of their income on top of tax.

Apprentices and other students will have to start paying their student loans before they have enough disposable income. This could mean apprentices going without money for tools or living costs like rent and food. This measure will have a disproportionate impact on students in the TAFE and VET sector compared to those that study at university.

Funding slashed – again!

The Federal Budget also cut the National Partnership Agreement for Skills Reform, replacing it with the Skilling Australia Fund. As a result, spending on vocational education will decrease by 9.7% in the next year and a further 2.1% by 2021. In Victoria this will mean a $40 million (31%) cut in the next year.

That could leave students and industry without the skills they need to meet the infrastructure needs of the state government’s building programme.

Secretary Troy Gray says to see more cuts to vocational education and training from the Turnbull Government is deeply concerning.

“These cuts are the latest in a sorry history of neglect of the sector by this federal government. Victorians are sick of Liberal governments running down training for our communities. We built TAFE – it’s not theirs to wreck."


  • Cut $2.5 billion from vocational education and training including $1 billion out of apprenticeships
  • Completely cut the Industry Skills Fund
  • Allowed TAFE cuts to reach 31.5% over the last decade
  • Overseen the loss of over 130,000 apprentice places