The Australian government has committed $2 billion in subsidies for skills, apprentice wages and to retrain unemployed workers to equip them with new job opportunities as the economy recovers from COVID-19.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said $1.5 billion will be made available to boost the Supporting Apprentices and Trainees wage subsidy. Eligibility for the subsidy has been expanded to include medium-sized businesses with 199 employees or less and had an apprentice in place on 1 July 2020. The subsidy has also been extended to March 2021.
As part of the overall subsidies, the government has also established a new “JobTrainer” programme, which it says will help around 340,700 school leavers and job seekers gain skills. The government says it will contribute $500 million to the programme this year, with a matched contribution sought from state and territory governments.
Morrison said training would be funded “across the board” but particularly in areas identified by the National Skills Commissioner as having the greatest need.
Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, Michaelia Cash, added that the Australian government will work with states and territories to determine the types of courses that will be funded.
“You may find some states would prefer to fund pre-apprenticeships in short courses, other states that I’ve been talking to said they’d like to fund full qualifications, so certainly there is a spread of courses depending on what your particular state or territory has in demand,” said Cash.
Acknowledging previous programmes fell short of expectations, Morrison said the new scheme will deliver positive outcomes for job seekers and employers.
“The way it’s been done in the past, we don’t believe, has been effective,” said Morrison. “[This is] a new way of working with the states and territories to deliver on the skills that Australians who are looking to get a job and be trained for a job, and businesses that are looking for people to do those jobs.”
Further information about the changes will be made available in the coming weeks.