The Federal Government has announced that it will invest $2 billion to give hundreds of thousands of Australians access to new skills by retraining and upskilling them into sectors with job opportunities, as the economy recovers from COVID-19.
The JobTrainer skills package will also guarantee support for thousands of apprentices in jobs across the nation by subsidising their wages to keep them employed and their training secured.
The new $1 billion JobTrainer program will provide up to an additional 340,700 training places to help school leavers and job seekers access short and long courses to develop new skills in growth sectors and create a pathway to more qualifications.
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 said the JobTrainer package was focused on getting people into jobs.
“JobTrainer will ensure more Australians have the chance to reskill or upskill to fill the jobs on the other side of this crisis,” he said.
“COVID-19 is unprecedented but I want Australians to be ready for the sorts of jobs that will come as we build back and recover.”
“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 Prime Minister said.
The package also includes an additional $1.5 billion to expand the wage incentive to help keep apprentices in work. It builds on the $1.3 billion package announced by the government 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 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 JobTrainer package would form a vital part of the national recovery efforts.
“Our nation has faced many challenges, and it is critical that we keep our apprentices in jobs and help those looking for work,” Minister Cash said.
“This package will be essential as the economy rebuilds so that people looking for work can reskill and upskill for in-demand jobs, provide school leavers with a pathway into their careers, and ensure businesses are able to get the skilled workers they need.”
Assistant Minister for Vocational Education, Training and Apprenticeships, Steve Irons, added that the expanded waged subsidy would more than double the number of supported apprentices and trainees.
“The Supporting Apprentices and Trainees wage subsidy will now help almost 90,000 businesses employing around 180,000 apprentices and trainees throughout Australia,” Assistant Minister Irons said.
“This will dramatically improve the viability of tens of thousands of apprenticeships and the businesses employing them right across the country.”
Industry welcomes the news
Master Builders Australia said the $2 billion JobTrainer Package is ‘a great move’ by the Federal Government that will keep young women and men in the building and construction industry working and provide hope and opportunity for those whose jobs have been lost in the economic devastation wrought by COVID-19.
CEO of Master Builders Australia, Denita Wawn, said: “The building and construction industry trains more apprentices and provides more full-time jobs than any other sector in the economy. We look forward to being involved in the implementation of this $2 billion package.”
“With the support of measures like JobTrainer, HomeBuilder and hopefully more stimulus measures and policy reforms in the future our industry will play a vital in rebuilding Australia,” she commented.
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.