Training funding boost to help disadvantaged students

Changes to the Smart and Skilled program will help improve retention rates among VET students with additional needs.

The NSW Government has committed more than $7 million for Smart and Skilled-approved training providers to better support students experiencing disadvantage.

The funding will remove the cap on needs-based loadings for the 2023-24 contract period to improve training completion rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, students with a disability and the long-term unemployed.

Smart and Skilled loadings support the additional costs associated with training students with additional needs.

Under the cap, providers could only receive one needs-based loading per enrolment. The removal of the cap recognises that students may have intersectional needs and allows for additional loadings to be provided.

The NSW Department of Education commissioned the University of Sydney to examine how disadvantaged students engage with VET and generate recommendations for improvements.

The resulting ‘Disadvantage, Disability and Vocational Education and Training’ report was informed by:

  • 71 interviews with diverse stakeholders in rural/regional areas (Lithgow/Bathurst) and metropolitan areas (Western Sydney) and;
  • Two policy workshops with over 69 participants from VET and the disability sector.
  • VET stakeholders were consulted extensively in the development of the report.

Removal of the loading cap is a direct response to the findings of this research.

Department of Education analysis found disadvantaged students have a 15 per cent lower completion rate when compared with overall Smart and Skilled completions. Additional supports funded by loading payments significantly improve completion rates for these student groups.

TAFE NSW trains a higher proportion of students experiencing multiple forms of disadvantage under Smart and Skilled and is set to receive approximately 92 per cent of the additional skills loading payments.

The NSW Department of Education will further establish a community of practice where training providers can share learnings and best practices, including uses of loadings to provide supports for disadvantaged students.

Minister for Skills, TAFE and Tertiary Education Tim Crakanthorp

“Disadvantage should not be a barrier to accessing vocational education, and removing the loading cap is a significant step in ensuring that students with intersectional needs get the support they need.

“Successful completion is a key pre-cursor to transitioning to employment or further study, and this will help improve completion rates for students experiencing multiple forms of disadvantage.

“The Minns Labor Government is committed to a vocational education system that is accessible to all.”

  • Ministerial media releases
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