Smart and Skilled Government Assistance (Eligibility)

Get the skills you need to pursue your dream career with Smart and Skilled Government Assistance.

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Smart and Skilled is a NSW Government initiative designed to help younger NSW residents learn and develop the skills they need to join the workforce. Previously known as the NSW Vocational Education and Training (VET) system, Smart and Skilled offers the following to eligible students:

  • Government-subsidised training up to and including Certificate III
  • Government funding for higher-level courses (Certificate IV and above) in certain areas.

The Smart and Skilled Government Assistance program is run by State Training Services, part of the Department of Education and Communities.

Who is eligible for Smart and Skilled Government Assistance?

In order to be eligible for Smart and Skilled training you will need to be:

  • 15 years or older
  • No longer attending school
  • Living or working in NSW
  • An Australian citizen, a permanent Australian resident, an Australian permanent humanitarian visa holder or a New Zealand citizen

If you satisfy all of the above criteria, your eligibility for a government-subsidised Smart and Skilled course depends on your previous qualifications. If you haven’t complete a Certificate IV or any higher qualification, you can enrol in a course up to Certificate III level. However, if you’ve completed a Certificate IV or any higher qualification, this does not affect your eligibility to enrol in a subsidised course at Certificate IV, Diploma or Advanced Diploma level.

If, as part of your high school education, you’ve completed a Vocational Education and Training (VET) course, your eligibility is not affected in any way.

Finally, there are a handful of exceptions to the eligibility requirements above, including for Aboriginal people who live in specific areas outside NSW.

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How does Smart and Skilled support disadvantaged students?

Students with disabilities and their dependants, as well as eligible students who receive welfare payments from the Australian Government, can sometimes qualify for fee exemptions or concession fees when they enrol in Smart and Skilled courses.

They may qualify for a fee exemption for their first Smart and Skilled course in a calendar year. If you then enrol in another course in the same year (up to and including Certificate IV a concession fee will apply. Dependants of people receiving Disability Support Pension payments may also qualify for a fee exemption or concession in certain circumstances.

For students who receive welfare payments from the Australian Government, or who are the dependant of someone receiving welfare payments, a concession fee is offered when you enrol in a Smart and Skilled course. Examples of welfare benefits include the age pension, carer payment, Newstart allowance and youth allowance.

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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) Students

What are the eligibilities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) students?

NSW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people must meet certain eligibility conditions if they wish to enrol in Smart and Skilled training. As well as satisfying the requirements listed above, ATSI students will need to prove their status and eligibility through descent, self-identification and community identification.

In addition, ATSI students who live in specified areas outside NSW borders may also qualify for subsidised training.

Are eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students exempt from fees for any Smart and Skilled courses?

Yes. Eligible ATSI students will receive a fee exemption for Smart and Skilled Training. They may need to provide documentary evidence in order to prove their status and their eligibility for this exemption.

Are people who are not permanent residents but who currently hold a humanitarian visa eligible for Smart and Skilled Government Assistance?

Yes. As mentioned in the section on eligibility requirements above, holders of Australian permanent humanitarian visas are able to take advantage of Smart and Skilled Government Assistance. However, your visa must fall under one of the refugee and humanitarian visa categories listed on the Department of Immigration website.

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How does Smart and Skilled affect apprentices and trainees?

If you’re a NSW apprentice or trainee in a traineeship on the NSW Skills List, you are eligible for Smart and Skilled funding. However, take note that the qualification you will achieve will support your apprenticeship or traineeship.

It’s up to you and your employer to choose the training provider that offers the best course for you, although your choice of provider will not affect the fees charged.

Instead of making yearly payments or paying by semester, apprentices and trainees pay a fee for the qualification they receive under Smart and Skilled; however, they can still pay this fixed fee in instalments over a number of years.

Does prior vocational qualification from TAFE affect eligibility for Smart and Skilled training?

If you have left school and obtained a Certificate III or lower level qualification since then, you’re still able to enrol in a subsidised course up to Certificate III level. However, you should be aware that the fee you pay will be higher than that charged to someone who has not achieved any qualifications since they left school.

For those students who have a post-school qualification at any level, including a university degree obtained abroad, enrolment in a subsidised course (at Certificate IV or above) is entirely possible. Once again, you’ll need to pay a higher fee than a student who hasn’t achieved any qualifications.

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How many subsidised entry-level qualifications can be completed under Smart and Skilled?

If you satisfy all the eligibility requirements to study for a qualification up to and including Certificate III, you will be charged the lower fee for your first Smart and Skilled subsidised course. All subsequent courses will require you to pay a higher fee.

What training is funded under Smart and Skilled?

Smart and Skilled provides subsidised training to help students achieve a wide range of vocational qualifications, as well as to improve foundation skills such as reading, writing and numeracy. There are more than 1,200 approved courses available and the 2015 NSW Skills List details the qualifications eligible for a Smart and Skilled subsidy. The Skills List covers all industries and includes all qualifications up to the Advanced Diploma level.

How does Smart and Skilled affect TAFE NSW?

TAFE NSW institutes offer several courses that are approved for Smart and Skilled subsidisation. Along with a range of other approved training organisations across the state, TAFE NSW is contracted to deliver government-subsidised courses. This means that TAFE NSW must deliver high-quality training courses and adhere to all Smart and Skilled guidelines and policies.

In return, State Training Services provides TAFE NSW (and other training providers) with ongoing information, professional development and support.

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How does Smart and Skilled affect employers?

The Smart and Skilled program is designed to meet the future demand for jobs by employers in NSW. It aims to create a highly-trained and skilled workforce that will be ready to meet the needs of employers across a wide range of industries.

Not only will the program ensure a supply of skilled workers but it also means a much broader choice of training providers to meet the specific training requirements of employers. A single set of fees now applies to all courses and all apprenticeship and most traineeship qualifications are now subsidised.

What are the fees and costs of Smart and Skilled courses?

A new fee schedule for Smart and Skilled courses was introduced at the start of 2015. On average, eligible students will be required to contribute between 10 and 45 per cent of the course cost. The fees charged are for the whole qualification, not just for a semester or a year of study.

However, the exact fee each student pays will vary depending on their eligibility. You can estimate the fees you will have to pay by using the Course Finder available through the Smart and Skilled website.

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