Innes Willox, Chief Executive of the national employer association, Ai Group, said the Federal Government’s 1.2 billion Boosting Apprenticeships Commencements (BAC) program has been all upside with 100,00 young people able to commence an apprenticeship or traineeship.The association now calls on the Government to extend the initiative until at least the end of 2021.
Mr Willox said the BAC program, which has provided a wage subsidy for employers of eligible apprentices and trainees, has been an overwhelming success.
“100,000 apprentices and trainees have benefited from this timely and well targeted initiative, supporting employers to create genuine skill development opportunities for young people,” he shared.
“COVID-19 has delivered many unfortunate labour market outcomes. Unfortunately, like previous recessions, the youth labour market has been the most adversely impacted. This continues today.”
“The rapid deployment of the BAC program by the Commonwealth Government enabled two important things to occur. Firstly, it put a floor under the apprenticeship and traineeship system. Previous initiatives supported those already in apprenticeship pathways. This initiative enabled employers – many of whom would have been suffering the negative impacts of COVID – to take on their usual annual intake of apprentices and trainees and in many instances increase apprenticeship numbers. The BAC measure also encouraged additional employers to participate in the apprentice and trainee system,” Mr Willox said.
“Secondly, and most importantly, the measure supported many young people in gaining meaningful employment, often their first job. 2020 school leavers were faced with the prospect of entering one of the most challenging labour markets in memory. While record numbers of school leavers enrolled in universities it was vital that the apprentice and traineeship pathway was equally supported. The Commonwealth Government, through the BAC initiative, successfully achieved this. The Government is to be commended for delivering this program so effectively,” he commented.
Mr Willox added that Ai Group is pleased to see the development of a strong pipeline of skills that has been supported by this program and would like to see it continue.
“Further work and support is required to enable us to return apprentice in-training levels to their peak. This skill development of a new generation of workers will be necessary to help lift the economy out of the COVID downturn and it is essential to ongoing economic success.”