• FWX March qtr  -1.6% (72.2pts)
  • FWX y-o-y change  0.9% (72.2pts)
  • Total timeframe to Gender Equality  59
  • Timeframe to Equality on Employment  28 years
  • Timeframe to Equality on Underemployment  15.5 years
  • Timeframe to Equality on Gender Pay Gap  22 years
  • Timeframe to Equality on Unpaid Work  59 years
  • Timeframe to Equality for Women On Boards  6.5 years
  • Timeframe to Equality on Superannuation  19 years
  • Gender Pay Gap 2021  13.9%
  • Gender Pay Gap sub-index 2021  (86pts)
  • Employment sub-index 2021  1.2pts (72pts)
  • Superannuation sub-index  5.4pts (74.6pts)
  • Gender Gap Superannuation  25%
  • Underemployment Rate sub-index  -8.1pts (74.6pts)
  • Education sub-index  92pts
  • ASX 200 Women On Boards sub-index  69pts
  • ASX 200 Women On Boards  34.5%
  • Unpaid Work sub-index  67pts

How to lower or flat out avoid student debt when upskilling

February 10, 2020

There are more Australian women upskilling by enrolling in tertiary education courses that ever before but at the same time, student debt just keeps increasing.

A report by the Parliamentary Library found that the average amount of student debt owed in 2017-18 was $21,557 per graduate, up from $20,303 in 2016–17.

At the same time the number the latest Financy Women’s Index found the number of women enrolling in tertiary education rose 3 per cent to 866,410 in 2018 from 839,278 the year before – that’s a lot of women upskilling and much more than men at 695,111 in 2018.

Despite the high price of a university degree, many women still find that university is worth its cost.

But university isn’t the only available option for getting the training you need to succeed in a fulfilling career. There are several other options for acquiring training whilst avoiding student debt:

1. Free TAFE Courses

Australia is facing dire future skills shortages in key industries ranging from healthcare to the trades to education.

Analysts predict that these skills shortages will be particularly challenging in Victoria.

Population projections indicate that the Victorian population is likely to grow to 10 million people by the year 2050; yet there are likely to be insufficient workers in some industries to ensure adequate housing, healthcare, education and other services for all these citizens.

In hopes of bridging the skills gap, the Victorian government is taking action to encourage talented Australians to obtain training in the skills that are most urgently needed locally.

Qualified students will each be permitted to enrol in their choice of one of 50 different free TAFE courses in Victoria. The Victoria officials have prioritised these free course subjects to include aged care, disabled care, nursing, trades, education support and others that will hopefully lessen the impact of the impending skills shortage.  

Certificate courses and advanced diploma courses are available. This program also includes some pre-apprenticeships and apprenticeships which focus on providing a combination of academic training and on-the-job work experience.

2. Low cost Apprenticeships

An apprenticeship gives you the opportunity to begin working directly with an employer who will teach you how to succeed in one of the trades. An apprenticeship is typically a structured program that includes a combination of work plus essential training from a TAFE college or government-approved training organisation.

 Sometimes apprenticeships require you to pay various costs for the training you receive; however, it is also possible to find free apprenticeships and apprenticeships where you get paid for the work you do.

 In particular, the Queensland government is offering free apprenticeships for qualified individuals under the age of 21 years. This training is only available in specific high-priority niches such as engineering, construction, laboratory science, agriculture and others that are likely to help to alleviate anticipated skills shortages in the area.

3. Internships or Volunteering

An internship is typically an unpaid job. With this type of arrangement, the hope is that you would receive beneficial work experience and training in exchange for your time. An internship also provides opportunities for you to enlarge your professional network of industry contacts.

 We recently took an in-depth look at whether or not it is worth it to do unpaid work such as this. Our conclusion is that internships can provide real value if you are strategic and selective about your approach to interning.

If you’re hoping to avoid student debt, these are 3 possibilities to consider. All 3 of these ways will allow you to get the job training you need without taking on significant amounts of student debt.


This article has been written in partnership with training.com.au with women’s money matters in mind.

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February 10, 2020
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