Apprentice wages slashed in $2b JobTrainer scheme

 

Half the wage of apprentice tradies will be paid for by the federal government to keep them in a job well into 2021 under a $2 billion skills and training cash injection.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will today announce a $1.5 billion extension of the wage incentive scheme giving businesses up to $7,000 a quarter to keep on an apprentice, which is expected to support about 180,000 jobs.

The scheme was initially due to expire in September and was only available to small businesses, but from now it will cover medium businesses with up to 199 employees until March 2021.

Employment Minister Michaelia Cash said the Nationals Skills Commission will be “critical” to identifying future skills needed in the labour market. Picture: Sam Mooy
Employment Minister Michaelia Cash said the Nationals Skills Commission will be “critical” to identifying future skills needed in the labour market. Picture: Sam Mooy

Under the changes more than 30,000 small and medium businesses who employ apprentices across NSW could qualify for the wage subsidy.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is expected to announce the new scheme today. Picture: Martin Ollman
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is expected to announce the new scheme today. Picture: Martin Ollman


About 15,269 companies across the state were already cashing scheme for some 26,267 apprentices as of July 9.

Mr Morrison will also unveil a new JobTrainer scheme to provide up to 340,700 new training places for school leavers and jobless Australians.

States will be urged to sign up to the scheme by matching a $500 million federal contribution, with courses slated to start as soon as September.

Based on population, more than 108,600 positions would go to NSW alone, with most of the short courses either free or offered at a low cost.

The newly formed Nationals Skills Commission will work with states to identify which areas are in the most need, with health care, social assistance, transports, postal and warehousing, manufacturing, retail and trade high on the list.

Both TAFE and private registered training organisations will deliver the courses.

Mr Morrison said the JobTrainer package was focused on getting people into jobs.

"JobTrainer will ensure more Australians have the chance to re-skill or upskill to fill the jobs on the other side of this crisis," he said.

"COVID-19 is unprecedented but I want Australians to be ready for the sorts of jobs that will come as we build back and recover."

30,000 small or medium businesses who employ apprentices could qualify for the subsidy. Picture: Jamie Hanson
30,000 small or medium businesses who employ apprentices could qualify for the subsidy. Picture: Jamie Hanson

Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business Minister Michaelia Cash said the National Skills Commission would play a "critical role" in identifying current and future skills needed in a challenging and changing labour market.

"We will work with states and territories to develop a list of qualifications and skill sets that will provide job seekers with the skills that are in demand by employers and are critical to the economic recovery," she said.

"This package will be essential as the economy rebuilds so that people looking for work can re-skill and upskill for in-demand jobs, provide school leavers with a pathway into their careers, and ensure businesses are able to get the skilled workers they need."

So far the government has paid out $365 million to employers to keep on apprentices.

NSW family run business Peninsula Air is one of the companies to have cashed in on the subsidy, enabling the airconditioning company to keep on three apprentices during the coronavirus crisis.

"The apprentice wage subsidy … meant we have been able to retain and pay our staff from the onset," owner Rod Marchant-Smith said.

"As a small business, we can see a future and we have not been forced into a position of making difficult restructuring decisions so far."

Originally published as Apprentice wages slashed in $2b JobTrainer scheme



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