The Federal Government has committed an additional $1.2 billion to the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements wage subsidy program. The cash injection will extend the existing program by 12 months to assist trades with hiring an estimated 70,000 new trainees and apprentices.
Trainees and apprentices will need to sign up before September 30 to take advantage of the government wage subsidy which will last for 12 months from their commencement date. Additional updates to the program include removing the capacity limits, making the program demand-driven.
The Boosting Apprentice Commencements program was introduced last year to provide economic assistance to the trades industry in the wake of COVID. The initial stage of the program, which provided a 50% wage subsidy for new apprentices, is fully subscribed.
The extension of the program will maintain the 50% subsidy amount and maximum subsidy cap of $7,000 per quarter to replicate the $1.2 billion cost of the first stage.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison flagged the importance of the scheme in providing a skilled workforce to get the nation’s economy back on track.
“Creating jobs, generating economic opportunities and boosting the skills of workers right across Australia are at the heart of our National Economic Recovery Plan, as we build back from the COVID-19 recession,” he said.
Housing Industry Association (HIA) Chief Executive Kristin Brookfield said that since the program’s commencement in 2020, they have already observed considerable benefits to the industry.
“The $2.8 billion already provided for this wage subsidy has made a significant difference for the housing industry and supported many new apprentices since October start their study and training,” she said.
“In under five months, the target of 100,000 new starters has been realised. Taken together with the support for existing apprentices and trainees already in a job before COVID-19, this means over 222,000 apprentices and trainees are being supported by the wage subsidy programs.”
Carpenters, electricians, child carers and mechanics are some of the top jobs that have benefited from the 100,000 apprenticeships already created. The NSW construction industry has been the most popular for uptake of the scheme, with 4603 businesses bringing on 6477 new tradies.
The scheme comes as a win for the little dog too, with 40 per cent of the new apprentices and trainees going to small businesses.
Brookfield said that the extension of the program would not only provide job assurance for young workers but allow the industry to maintain a skilled workforce.
“The extension of this vital assistance will mean not only are apprentices kept in the jobs they have today, but that new apprentices can find work, businesses can continue to build and Australia can maintain a healthy level of skilled tradespeople into the future,” she said.
While the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements wage subsidy program is set to continue for an additional 12 months, standard JobKeeper payments are set to end in April. The government is yet to reveal details on the post-JobKeeper transition steps.