The Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) has demanded the federal government scrap rules that ban apprentice ratios on government jobs while also calling for increased nvestment in local skills training.

The call has come in the wake of projected workforce supply issues recently identified by Infrastructure Australia.

CFMEU national construction secretary, Dave Noonan, said the Australian Building Code bans apprentice ratios on government jobs including almost all infrastructure projects.

“Apprentice ratio provisions should be an important part of developing a future skilled construction workforce, yet the Code bans them from inclusion in EBAs if the employer bids for government work," he said.

“If engineers are part of the identified need for skilled workers, they must be trained to Australian standards and registered so buildings and structures are safe in their construction and over their lifetime of use.”

Last month the federal government expanded Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements program.

The $3.9 billion program will extend support into the second and third year of an eligible apprenticeship administered through the $716 million Completing Apprenticeship Commencements program. 

Under the new changes from October 2021, eligible employers will receive a 10 per cent wage subsidy in the second year of an eligible apprenticeship, and five per cent in the third year.

The investment is expected to continue to support the 270,000 anticipated commencements under the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements program from October 2020 to March 2022. 

Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business, Stuart Robert, said the program expansion will help maintain a pipeline of skilled workers right across the economy with 348,200 Australians training as at June 2021, 30 per cent more than the previous 12 months.  

‘The Morrison Government has supported a generation of Australian apprentices in the face of the biggest shock to our economy since World War Two,” Robert said. 

‘While other countries shed their apprentice workforces, our highly successful Boosting Apprenticeship Commencement program saw new apprenticeships increase 141.5 per cent year on year.”

Robert said securing the skilled workforce of tomorrow through the Completing Apprenticeship Commencements program is in addition to a record $6.4 billion investment in skills this financial year, including a $500 million expansion of the JobTrainer Fund, which recently hit more than 230,000 course enrolments. 

For further information on how to apply for the program, including information on eligibility, visit  


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