Gayle Tierney toured TAFE this week.

Bendigo locals are getting into training with free TAFE programs, with more than 400 students enrolled in free TAFE courses in Bendigo, Castlemaine and Echuca.

State minister for Training and Skills Gayle Tierney joined Bendigo West MP Maree Edwards at the Bendigo TAFE and Kangan Institute on Tuesday, where more than 1000 students have enrolled across its Victorian campuses – a jump of 12 per cent compared to the same time last year.

Minister Tierney also announced more than $2.3 million through the Regional and Specialists Training Fund for Bendigo TAFE to deliver courses in welding, plumbing, horticulture and disability to meet the needs of the local community and industry.

“We’re investing in first class training infrastructure for Bendigo TAFE while also taking the financial pressure off students to enrol,” Ms Tierney said.

“Free TAFE will help Victorians get real jobs across a range of industries that are crying out for more skilled workers.”

It was also revealed that award-winning Victorian architects Architectus and Six Degrees have been officially appointed to design the $60 million redevelopment of Bendigo TAFE’s Bendigo city campus.

More enrolments are expected at TAFEs across Victoria, thanks to the $172M Free TAFE program that is making 30 priority TAFE courses and 20 pre-apprenticeship courses tuition fee free from this year.

Free TAFE for Priority Courses reduces the financial barrier for eligible students wanting to train in the courses that lead to the jobs that are most in demand from Victorian employers.

Students can save up to $2500 for some pre-apprenticeship courses and up to $5000 for certificate IV courses.

For high cost courses such as a diploma in nursing or building and construction, students will save more than $10,000 through the Free TAFE initiative.