Smart and Skilled is a reform of the NSW Vocational Education and Training (VET) system.

From 1 January 2015, Smart and Skilled provides eligible students with:

  • an entitlement to government-subsidised training up to and including Certificate III
  • government funding for higher-level courses (Certificate IV and above) in targeted priority areas.

How does Smart and Skilled affect employers?

Workers and employers have a wide range of government-subsidised courses to choose from. There is also targeted funding of higher-level training and part qualifications in priority industries, subject to availability of training places.

All apprenticeship qualifications and most traineeship qualifications for trainees who are new entrants are subsidised under Smart and Skilled.

What training is funded?

The 2015 NSW Skills List identifies the qualifications eligible for a government subsidy under Smart and Skilled in 2015.

The Skills List covers all industry sectors in NSW and includes qualifications up to Advanced Diploma. All NSW apprenticeship and most new entrant traineeship qualifications are on the Skills List.

Who is eligible?

If a person is:

  • 15 years old or over, and
  • no longer at school, and
  • living or working in NSW (or an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person living in specific NSW border areas), and
  • an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident, Australian permanent humanitarian visa holder or New Zealand citizen


  • a NSW apprentice or trainee

they may be eligible to enrol in a government-subsidised course with an approved Smart and Skilled training provider.

Their eligibility for specific courses depends on their previous qualifications:

  • If they haven’t completed a Certificate IV or higher-level qualification, they’re entitled to enrol in a subsidised course up to Certificate III level.
  • They can enrol in subsidised training in targeted priority areas at Certificate IV, Diploma or Advanced Diploma level, depending on the availability of funding for these courses. Having completed a Certificate IV or higher-level qualification does not affect eligibility.

NSW apprentices and most new-entrant trainees are eligible for a government subsidy for the training that supports their apprenticeship or traineeship. Their previous qualifications do not affect their eligibility.

How does Smart and Skilled support disadvantaged students?

Smart and Skilled supports disadvantaged students by offering fee exemptions to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) students, students with disabilities and the dependants of Disability Support Pension recipients. Fee concessions are also available to students receiving welfare benefits and the dependants of welfare recipients.

Lower-cost foundation skills courses are available for people who want help with language, literacy or numeracy skills to help them get a job or do a vocational course.

Training providers are compensated through a top up to the subsidy, called a loading, for the typical additional costs associated with providing training to specific categories of disadvantaged students. This is important for meeting equity objectives, as it ensures there is no financial disincentive for training providers to enrol these students.

How does Smart and Skilled support people in regional communities?

Smart and Skilled helps regional students access quality training in a number of ways.

For example, the courses on the NSW Skills List are relevant to industry needs across NSW and have good job prospects.

Approved Smart and Skilled training providers also receive a top up to the subsidy (called a loading) for training delivered in regional and remote locations to ensure there is no financial disincentive to deliver training in regional areas.

How does Smart and Skilled affect apprentices and trainees?

All NSW apprentices and new-entrant trainees in traineeships on the NSW Skills List are eligible for a government subsidy under Smart and Skilled for the qualification that supports their apprenticeship or traineeship.

Apprentices, eligible new-entrant trainees and their employers can choose an approved Smart and Skilled training provider that best meets their needs. Their choice of training provider does not affect the fee that is paid. The fee they pay is the same regardless of which approved Smart and Skilled training provider they choose.

Rather than paying yearly or by semester, apprentices and eligible trainees under Smart and Skilled pay a fee for the qualification. They may still pay in instalments over a number of years, but the fee is an amount for the qualification, fixed at the time the apprentice or trainee commences.

If a person is starting an apprenticeship in 2015, their Smart and Skilled fee for the whole qualification will not be more than $2,000.

How many subsidised entry-level qualifications, up to Certificate III level, can an eligible student commence or complete under Smart and Skilled?

If the student meets the Smart and Skilled eligibility conditions to undertake a qualification up to and including Certificate III, and if they don’t have any post-school qualifications, they will pay the lower fee for their first Smart and Skilled subsidised course at Certificate III level or lower.

They will pay a higher fee for any subsequent Smart and Skilled courses they undertake.

If they obtain a qualification at Certificate IV level or higher, they are no longer eligible to enrol in Smart and Skilled subsidised courses at Certificate III level or below, unless they are a NSW apprentice or eligible NSW trainee.

Employer incentives

Your investment in skilling your staff through training may also bring with it a number of State and Australian Government financial incentives.

Financial incentives you may be eligible for include:
Note Incentives are dependent on meeting eligibility criteria.

  • Australian Government standard Commencement and Completion Incentives ranging from $750 to over $4,000
  • Training award pay rates (if required)
  • Exemption or rebates from payroll tax (where applicable)
  • Exemption of apprentice’s wages from workers compensation premium calculations (NSW apprentices)
  • Extra incentives to assist in the employment of under-represented groups such as
  • Apprentices or trainees with a disability, mature age, school-based and Indigenous Australians
  • A number of extra incentives which are available for certain areas or qualifications

For further information please contact us or visit NSW Smart and Skilled.