What Skills First is

Skills First is a set of reforms for the training and TAFE sector. They are our commitment to provide high-quality training that leads learners to real jobs. The reforms also ensure Victoria's training and TAFE system is better managed to deliver training.

Skills First is made up of:

Stronger TAFE system
  • high-quality training that students and industry can trust, aligned to industry and workforce needs
  • a real voice for industry in training
  • funding for high needs learners who need additional support to engage with and succeed in education and training
  • access to targeted, relevant training for students in regional areas.


We will continue this significant investment in the training and TAFE system. Funding will only be provided to training that meets the needs of students, industry and the economy.

We’ve consulted with employers and we will continue to do so. We want to:

  • know what they need from training and which courses should be prioritised
  • ensure emerging needs are met
  • ensure training leads to real jobs that benefit the economy.

Growth sectors

Skills First is ensuring Victoria can provide the skilled workers needed for the six sectors primed for major job growth:

  • medical technology and pharmaceuticals
  • new energy technology
  • food and fibre
  • transport
  • defence and construction technology
  • international education and professional services.

It is also producing the skilled workers we need to support the Government’s record number of infrastructure projects, including the Melbourne Metro Rail Project and the Level Crossing Removal Project.


The Government will continue to invest $1.2 billion annually in the training and workforce development of Victorians.

Funding continues to be competitive. This is to deliver responsive and relevant training, but there will be closer management of the system. This is complemented by new targeted funding streams, including:

  • a supplementary funding stream for TAFEs
  • the Reconnect program
  • the Workforce Training Innovation Fund
  • the Regional and Specialist Training Fund.

Contacts and compliance

New measures were introduced to guaranteeing value for money in taxpayer-funded training.

Skills First funding contracts with training providers are better aligned to workforce needs. They include:

  • penalties that can be applied to providers who fail to properly assess every student's suitability for their course.
  • the ability to publish results of student and employer satisfaction surveys.
  • new requirements to improve the quality of online and workplace-based training.
  • requirements that training providers using brokers must disclose brokering arrangements on their websites

Restoring TAFEs

TAFEs are the engine room for Victorian jobs, delivering around 70 per cent of all apprenticeships. They also retrain Victorians with skills to help them transition to new jobs. Under Skills First, they are recognised and supported.

The capacity of TAFEs to meet the needs of their communities is being restored with funding each year to recognise their distinct role as the public provider supporting learners of all ages and abilities, no matter where they live.

Supporting quality providers

The days of low quality training providers are over. Private providers are focusing their business plans on delivering great training rather than worrying about poor quality, low cost competitors and their bottom line. Quality providers can compete to meet the needs of students, industry and the economy.

Commitment to quality

Funding subsidies now reflect the real cost of qualifications and ensure high quality training is meeting the needs of industry and employers. New contracts are ensuring that public funds are well spent.

Industry at the forefront

The Workforce Training Innovation Fund provides funding for new training programs and products, projects or initiatives.

This includes specialised curriculum development and applied research that develops new skills where there are identified gaps for new, emerging and priority sectors. The fund supports strong partnerships between industry, TAFEs, dual sector universities and high quality training providers.

Jobs in our regions

The Regional and Specialist Training Fund ensures there is training in regions and industries where the current system lacks the ability to meet the needs of local businesses.

August 2017 update

Case studies



For more information, email skillsfirst.enquiry@edumail.vic.gov.au