2021 Australian Budget Boosts Apprenticeship Commencements

2021 Federal Budget Boosts Apprenticeship Commencements

The Australian Government budget for 2021 has revealed an additional $2.7 billion has been allocated to extend the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements programme. According to the government, the demand driven programme is expected to support more than 170,000 new apprentices and trainees by paying businesses a 50 per cent wage subsidy over 12 months for newly commencing apprentices or trainees signed up by 31 March 2022. The subsidy will be capped at $7000 per quarter per apprentice or trainee.

The government said the extension will deliver on its commitment to build a “pipeline of skilled workers” by further supporting growing businesses to take on new apprentices and trainees, and provide pathway services for 5000 women to commence a non-traditional apprenticeship.

Employers who hire apprentices will be given access to a new national apprenticeships portal, which will act as a ‘one-stop-shop’ to manage their apprentice workforces. Apprentices will also be able to use the portal to understand their entitlements.

The government also announced that a new national training register will be established, at a cost of $30.9 million, and that it intends to negotiate a new National Skills Agreement with the states and territories.

In further budget measures designed to help job seekers improve their skills and gain employment in 2021, the government plans to spend $213.5 million over four years to expand the Local Jobs Program to help job seekers connect to employment, reskilling and upskilling opportunities. The programme will be expanded to all 51 employment regions and extended for three years – from June 30, 2022 to June 30, 2025.

The government said it will also invest a further $481.2 million in the Transition to Work employment programme, a specialist youth employment service that helps unemployed people aged 15 to 24 move into work or education. A further $7.6 million will be spent on extending the National Careers Institute to ensure young people are better connected with further education, training and work options, and help job seekers match their skills to priority jobs.

Wage subsidies for eligible jobseekers on jobactive, Transition to Work and ParentsNext payments will be increased to $10,000 to encourage employers to hire eligible disadvantaged people, job seekers including youth and single parents, and the long-term unemployed.

The government says it will also provide increased support for foundational skills training, investing an additional $23.6 million to uncap and expand access to basic language, reading, writing, maths and computer skills training for job seekers.

The Victorian Automotive Chamber of Commerce (VACC) has welcomed the 2021 government budget, describing it as “being future-focused, with employment top of the agenda”.

According to the VACC, the boost in apprenticeships and training support “will go some way” to support the country’s economic recovery and make it easier for employers to access and commit to taking on an apprentice.

“The government has set its sights on getting unemployment below five per cent. It’s ambitious, but fresh investment in apprenticeships and training is key,” said Geoff Gwilym, CEO of the VACC. “People need jobs; industries need skills. This budget goes beyond acknowledging the problem – it’s about putting our money where it’s needed most.”

2021 Federal Budget Boosts Apprenticeship Commencements - Geoff Gwilym
Geoff Gwilym.

According to the latest VACC research, the automotive sector alone is suffering from a skills shortage of more than 31,000, which provides “a snapshot of the chronic issue” impacting numerous essential service industries.

“Yes, we have made it through a year of unprecedented challenges, but Australia’s skills shortage goes way back. We need to maintain a pipeline of workers and can no longer rely on skilled people coming from overseas. We need to look closer to home and create opportunities,” said Gwilym.