ALMOST 1500 students were enrolled in free Bendigo TAFE courses in 2019.
The state government last year rolled out the free TAFE program to provide thousands of additional government-subsidised training places.
There were more than 30 free courses on offer at Bendigo TAFE, with 1497 students enrolled in the various programs.
The most popular free courses were the Diploma of Community Services, Certificate III in Education Support, and Certificate III in Individual Support with 241, 144, 132 students enrolled in those courses respectively.
"Free TAFE has opened doors for so many trainees in Victoria and has had a huge impact for so many people getting into the workforce over the past year," Bendigo TAFE chief executive Sally Curtain said.
Bendigo TAFE student Zoe Edquist chose to pursue the free Certificate IV in Building and Construction (Building) in 2019.
"It was a no-brainer," she said. "I wouldn't have done it without free TAFE. It wasn't affordable to me as a full-fee course."
Ms Edquist is currently building her own home and plans to pursue a full Victorian Building Authority registration.
"Apart from being an owner-builder and developer, I'm also a lawyer," she said. "The knowledge gained by doing the Certificate IV has and will be very helpful in expanding my practice to include construction law, for which there is great demand at the moment."
Almost 40,000 students were enrolled in free TAFE courses across the state in 2019 - an 88 per cent increase compared with the same courses at the end of 2018.
Women accounted for 56 per cent of all free TAFE students across Victoria, an increase of 118 per cent with female participation surging in courses like building surveying, construction, and cyber security.
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