The Independent Scholars Association of Australia Inc. (ISAA) was founded in 1995 as an Australian-wide association for the promotion of education. The association has a diverse membership and broad purpose that give ISAA knowledge and capacity for informed judgement in vocational education and training matters. TAFE should be a valued and essential part of Australia’s post-COVID economic recovery and is integral to the nation’s vocational education and training system. Yet it has been run down since around 2012, depleting Australia’s pool of skilled workers.
In the period since 2012 leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Commonwealth relied heavily upon migration to deal with skill shortages in preference to training Australian workers. This has not been possible during the pandemic, resulting in businesses increasingly reporting skills shortages. Skills shortages are an area of economic reform that free TAFE courses would assist in helping Australia build back more strongly after the COVID-19 pandemic. Since 2019 there have been initiatives to provide free TAFE courses in Victoria, Queensland, and New South Wales. These initiatives are evidence of the political will to arrest the decline in students undertaking vocational education, particularly in areas of skill shortages.