Courses will be free or low cost in areas of identified need, with the Federal Government providing $500 million with matched contributions from state and territory governments.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison conceded “the jobs and skills we’ll need as we come out of the crisis are not likely to be the same as those that were lost.”
The package also includes an additional $1.5 billion to expand the wage incentive to help keep apprentices in work. It builds on the initial $1.3 billion package announced in March.
In addition to small businesses already covered, the wage subsidy will now be available to medium businesses with less than 200 employees for apprentices employed as at 1 July 2020. Around 180,000 apprentices and 90,000 small and medium businesses that employ them will now be supported, with the program extended by six months to March 2021.
The initiative covers 50 per cent of the wages paid to apprentices and trainees, up to $7,000 per quarter.
Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business 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.
States and territories need to sign up to a new Heads of Agreement to access JobTrainer funding, with the agreement setting out immediate reforms to improve the vocational education and training sector, and providing the foundation for long term improvements as outlined by the Prime Minister in his recent speech to the National Press Club.
Resource employers welcome JobTrainer, call for targeted approach
ACCI welcomes training incentive
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, of which AMMA is a member, said the commitment from the Federal Government to extend the 50 per cent wage subsidy for apprentices until 31 March 2021 and expand the scheme to medium sized businesses is an important step in preserving the skills we need as our economy struggles to emerge from the COVID crisis.
“In our letter to the Prime Minister in early June, we identified the need for the apprentice wage subsidy to be extended beyond its original end date of September and to expand it to embrace apprentices employed in larger businesses,” ACCI CEO James Pearson said.
“Skills investment is an essential part of the solution to our current unemployment and underemployment crisis. This latest commitment not only provides certainty, but it acknowledges the economic road out of the COVID crisis will be rocky.
“The reversal of some steps in the roadmap to reopening has rocked business confidence and stirred up more financial angst. It is therefore vital that at this difficult time we preserve skills for the future.
“We look forward to working with Government in the run up to the October Budget on appropriate incentives to encourage new apprentices and trainees as the economy recovers and there are more job opportunities available.
“Industry input on the proposed new skills agreement between the Commonwealth and State/Territory governments is key to its success. This includes how the economy can best benefit from the substantial JobTrainer investment.”