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Trade apprenticeships on the up

Rising apprentice and trainee numbers bode well for skill-seeking, staff-short trades 

The Morrison Government has announced that apprentice and trainee application numbers were up 141.5 per cent, in the fourth quarter of 2020, compared to 2019.

It also states that the number of apprentice and trainee commencements is now at a five-year high. The total number in training has surged, too; 297,920 trainees and apprentices were reported in Q4 2020, which is a 13.9 per cent increase compared to 2019’s figures.

Benefitting particularly was the construction trade sector, in which the number of trainees increased by 4510 – while, in the non-trade sector, administrative commencements rose by a significant 8820. 

The hike in numbers is primarily attributable to the Federal Government’s wage subsidy package, dubbed Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements, which was launched in October 2020 to help counter the economic challenges induced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the scheme, the wages for any new or recommencing apprentice or trainee will be subsidised by up to 50 per cent, up to a maximum of $A7000 a quarter; to date, some $3.9 billion has been invested.

Further contributing to the boom in numbers is the now-closed $2.8 billion Supporting Apprentices and Trainees subsidy scheme, which further helped companies attract, employ and retain new staff. 

The Morrison Government has also just announced that the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements program will now be extended – with a $716 million Completing Apprenticeship Commencements program – to provide funds for the second and third year of eligible Australian apprenticeships, further securing the skills pipeline. 

Stuart Robert, minister for employment, workforce, skills, small and family business, said: “With more people in work than before the pandemic, today’s apprenticeships data is another sign of the fundamental strength of the Australian economy under the Morrison Government.

“Our jobs plan, outlined in the Federal Budget, is straightforward: protect jobs and connect people with jobs today, and skill up our workforce for the jobs of tomorrow. It is clear the plan is working.”

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