A HECS-style loans program could be implemented to assist TAFE students to pay for their courses following a NSW government review.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced the review this week, which she said would look at how TAFE NSW could address current and future skills shortages.
"We want students to think of TAFE the same way they think of university, as a leading institution for furthering their education and gaining the skills of the future," Ms Berejiklian said.
"For some new high-tech and high-end jobs, TAFE could become a better option for students than university.
"This review will consider initiatives like a HECS-style program for TAFE students, greater industry involvement in co-designing courses and making sure courses are as up-to-date as possible."
The possibility of HECS-like loans has prompted concern over whether it would open the door to increased course fees.
The Electrical Trades Union has criticised the proposal, with secretary Justin Page saying it would make current skills shortages worse in the long term.
"Introducing HECS-style TAFE fees will only see the price of courses skyrocket, lumping students with huge debts while on apprentice wages, providing a further disincentive to vocational training," Mr Page said.
"This review looks alarmingly like a smoke-screen to justify further ideological attacks on the TAFE sector, using a new fee model to make it even more unaffordable, and allowing the closure or privatisation of colleges."
Mr Page said he believed there were better ways to invest in TAFE.
"We need an urgent reversal of the cuts, fee increases, closures, and diluting of curriculum that are directly responsible for the chronic skills shortages now facing vital industries," he said.
Wagga plumber Ronnie Scobell said he was aware of previous initiatives offering loans to apprentices to assist them with their studies, but they were often poorly monitored and he believed the money did not always go where it should.
Mr Scobell said he thought a HECS-style system would be more likely to succeed because there was no option for students to spend the money frivolously.
However, he said in his industry the main concern was a lack of quality, dedicated apprentices rather than an overall shortage.
"I don't think there's a shortage it's just very hard to get someone that's going to be committed to doing the apprenticeship," he said.
"I don't know if the discipline is there."
He said the main priority was bringing people into the industry with the right attitude and he was unsure making TAFE courses more accessible upfront would address this.