The federal government has announced new incentives to fund 80,000 additional apprentices over the next five years in areas where there are skill shortages.
The government will commit over $525 million to ensure Australia's vocational education and training (VET) sector delivers skills critical to the economy.
Details of the 'Delivering Skills for Today and Tomorrow' package were announced as part of the 2019/20 Federal Budget last night.
Minister for Small and Family Business, Skills and Vocational Education, Michaelia Cash, said the package responds to the expert review into Australia’s VET sector led by Steven Joyce.
“This Package will ensure Australians develop the skills they need to succeed in a changing workplace and will provide businessesin cluding those in rural and regional areas with a pipeline of qualified workers they need to grow and prosper,” Senator Cash said.
The package also includes $32.4 million to raise the profile of the VET sector and improve career advice to young Australians and workers transitioning careers by establishing a National Careers Institute and a National Careers Ambassador.
A further $90 million will be used to promote a nationwide approach to skills development, including through better identifying areas of skills shortages, and to enhance the role of industry in designing training courses by establishing a National Skills Commission.
An estimated $10 million will be used to develop skills in areas of need by building innovative partnerships between schools, employers and the VET sector including a new competitive grants program.
Cash said the government will establish 10 training hubs in regional areas with high youth unemployment to create better linkages between schools and local industry. This initiative will cost $50.6 million.
Finally, $44 million will be used to streamline incentives for employers of apprentices and trainees and to
modernise the skills needs list.
She said the package provides clear and reliable careers guidance to inform study choices, and provides foundational skills so no one is left behind. It will also get more apprentices in jobs in areas of demand.
“Our new apprenticeship incentive will address priority areas of skills shortage for traditional trades including carpenters and plumbers. We are providing an additional $4,000 incentive payment to employers and $2,000 to apprentices,” Cash said.
“We are streamlining the process for employers to work out what support they are eligible for when engaging a new apprentice.
"The Delivering Skills for Today and Tomorrow package simplifies the current Australian Apprenticeship Incentives Program by consolidating the more than 30 current payment categories into 14.
“These significant investments by the Liberal National Government are a significant part of our economic plan that will see 1.25 million jobs created over the next five years.”
Australian Industry (Ai) Group CEO, Innes Willox, said the increase in support for new apprentices is welcomed.
"It is very pleasing to see that the Government has listened to industry concerns on our apprenticeship program.
"The Ai Group welcomes the establishment of a National Skills Commission as recommended by the Joyce review to drive overdue and long-term reforms to the VET sector.
"A National Careers Institute will further create vital linkages between students, schools, training and industry.”
The Australian Government will provide $156.3 million to establish an Additional Identified Skills Shortage (AISS) payment to boost the supply of skilled workers in occupations experiencing national skill shortages.
From July 1, 2019, the AISS will provide an additional incentive for both employers and apprentices in these occupations.
Eligible employers will receive $2,000 at the 12 month point from commencement of the apprenticeship, and an additional $2,000 at completion of the apprenticeship.
Eligible apprentices will also receive $1,000 after 12 months, and $1,000 at completion. The AISS payments will be additional to any payments the apprentice or employer may be eligible for under existing Australian Government programs.