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Fresh apprentice funding to aid post-COVID comeback

Australia’s federal government has launched a $A1.2 billion apprentice and trainee subsidy scheme that is designed help counter the economic impacts of COVID-19. 

A total of 100,000 new apprentices and trainees will be supported by the scheme, which will initially create much-needed avenues for those looking to establish a new career – which, on its own, will alleviate considerable stress and potential financial turmoil. 

Over time, however, the apprenticeships and training kicked off by the new investment will lead to the creation of numerous skilled workers. These, across Australia, will support its ongoing economic recovery and development. 

The “Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements” wage subsidy is available to any business or group training organisation, of any size and in any field. It will cover up to 50 per cent of wages paid to an apprentice or trainee, from 5 October 2020 to 30 September 2021, up to a maximum of $A7000 a quarter. 

The new scheme will run alongside the existing $2.8 billion “Supporting Apprentices and Trainees” wage subsidy. This programme for small- and medium-sized businesses, has so far enabled 90,000 companies to employ and retain around 180,000 apprentices.

Apprentice automotive technicians
Apprentice automotive technicians

Government commitment to support and develop skilled workers  was welcomed by Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) CEO Tony Weber who highlighted the importance of training “given the advent of highly sophisticated emerging technologies, such as the electrification of fleets and connected and autonomous vehicles”.

“In addition, attracting, developing, mentoring, and retaining new talent through robust entry-level programs is a huge factor in ensuring industry and business thrives and prospers. Apprenticeships and training allowing specific learning outcomes is a key factor for the automotive industry’s commitment to Australia.”

Significant employment support is also being offered in the form of the recently launched $1 billion JobTrainer Fund, which provides job seekers and young people access to subsided training. The fund, consisting of $500 million from the Federal Government and matching funds from State and Territory governments, will create upwards of 320,000 free or low-fee training opportunities. 

JobTrainer funding is being offered for agreed short courses, certificates and accredited diplomas – but efforts are being focused on fields such as health care, trade work and IT, where specific skills are required and the employment market is expected to grow. This should ensure that those benefiting from the support get a decent foothold in a potential career, which will contribute to long-term economic stability and recovery. 

Altogether, some $6.5 billion is being invested in the vocational education and training (VED) system in 2020-2021, which should serve to grant access to a range of new skill development and employment opportunities – and, hopefully, ensure prosperity in the future.