Federal Employment Minister Julia Gillard has announced a plan to bolster apprentice numbers with a $145 million package that offers employers up to $2800 on top of standard subsidies if they help an apprentice complete their training.
The package is a clear sign the Government is bracing for a big drop in unemployment, but Gillard says she is determined not to repeat the mistakes of the last recession, when apprentice numbers crashed.
“As employers come under pressure as demand and cashflows fall, spending on training can be the first to go,” she said in a speech to the Sydney Institute last night.
“During the downturn of the early 1990s, the number of Australian apprentices reduced sharply, by as much as 20,000. We are already receiving reports that some apprenticeships are being handed back by employers. We must avoid this boom-and-bust cycle in human-capital investment.”
So what’s on offer?
Employers who take on an apprentice who has been laid off before finishing their qualification will be given an extra $1800, paid as a $150-a-week wage subsidy.
To encourage employers to retain trainees, the Government will give employers $1000 for each apprentice that completes their training.
The Government will also pay registered training organisations $1250 or $2500 to help laid-off apprentices complete the training. The size of the subsidy will depend on the level of training required.
Employers should note the breadth of apprenticeship occupations that can attract Government funding. According to the Government’s apprenticeship scheme, there are over 500 occupations covered, across industries including:
- Agriculture, horticulture and related industries
- Building and construction
- Business services
- Finance services
- Community services and health
- Information technology
- Light manufacturing
- Local government
- Metals and engineering
- Process manufacturing
- Property services
- Public services
- Sport and recreation
- Transport and distribution
- Utilities and energy
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