Aviation training boosted by increased VET loans

Aviation students planning to become commercial pilots have been given a massive boost to their career prospects thanks to the Liberal and Nationals’ Government.

The Liberals and Nationals will increase the lifetime loan limit available to aviation students studying at a VET Student Loans (VSL) approved provider to $150,000, up from $104,440.

Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals’ Leader Michael McCormack said the higher limit comes into force from January 2020 and will help students cover the costs to complete multiple aviation courses required to be a commercial pilot.

“The Liberals and Nationals are investing in training today to meet the aviation needs of tomorrow,” Mr McCormack said.

“We need more people in aviation, particularly women, and are investing to help attract the skills we need for the future.

“We’ve listened to the concerns from industry that the current combined lifetime loan limit of $104,440 doesn’t adequately cover the cost of training for the licences and ratings issued by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

“That’s why the cap will be lifted to the same level as courses for medicine, dentistry and veterinary science.

“Airlines advise the current shortage of experienced pilots, in part driven by the boom in aviation across the Asia-Pacific, is causing flight cancellations and delays.

“The Liberals and Nationals’ initiative will help unblock the training pipeline and help ensure the aviation industry can access pilots with the qualifications that the industry needs.”

Minister for Small and Family Business, Skills and Vocational Education, Senator Michaelia Cash said the higher lifetime loan limit for VSL students will be a boost for the sector.

“The Liberal and Nationals’ Government wants to ensure that the pilots of tomorrow are properly supported so they can continue to contribute to this growing industry,” Minister Cash said.

The higher limit benefits tertiary students who will undertake or are currently undertaking an aviation course at diploma or advanced diploma level, and deferring their tuition fees through VSL. This will apply for training that leads to outcomes such as acquiring a CASA commercial pilot licence, instrument and multi-engine ratings.

The initiative responds to a recommendation from a skills study conducted by an expert industry panel last year. It follows a $4 million injection from the Liberals and Nationals in March into programs to attract more women into aviation careers.

“The Liberals and Nationals believe in a strong vocational education and training sector that provides students with the skills and experience they need for a successful and rewarding career,” Minister Cash said.

“We are investing over $3 billion in the VET sector annually to meet Australia’s skills needs and creating hundreds of thousands of new apprenticeships and trainee places.”

Chairman for the Australian Aviation Associations Forum (TAAAF) Mr Jeff Boyd congratulated the Government for taking on board the recommendation from the TAAAF’s skills study completed last year.

“Our study recognised the shortfall on financial assistance for pilots was a blockage in the pilot training supply,” Mr Boyd said.

“This increase will now ensure that pilots will be able to complete their training with not only bare minimum qualifications, but relevant and employable qualifications thereby helping to ease Australia’s pilot shortage.”