Businesses across Victoria have spent more than two years in the thick of the pandemic, and they need support now more than ever. For small businesses to thrive in 2022 and beyond, owners and staff must be able to not only recover from the disruption, but rise to new heights. That’s the message from Jobs Victoria, whose wage subsidy fund is providing a significant cash injection to support thousands of jobs and small businesses across the state.
During our latest webinar, Eloise Keating, editor at SmartCompany, spoke to Jobs Victoria CEO Lisa Buckingham and business owner Chris Choong about how employers can hire in today’s job market, and how they can access the Jobs Victoria fund. Here’s what they shared.
An opportunity for growth beyond the pandemic
With the government investing $619 million into the Jobs Victoria initiative in last year’s budget, the department has been able to “provide specialist employment support services for people looking for work right across Victoria,” says Buckingham. It came at a critical time, with the pandemic in full swing and the damage to small businesses already conspicuous.
“We’re particularly focused on supporting people and businesses who were impacted by the pandemic,” Buckingham says. “We know that many people who were doing it tough beforehand were also impacted much more so by the pandemic and the health restrictions that shut down many of our sectors. This had a huge impact on people in our labour force.”
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Backed by this latest government investment, Jobs Victoria were able to set up its wage subsidy fund.
“The $250 million Jobs Victoria fund provides wage subsidies for businesses right across Victoria,” Buckingham says. “We have an incredible opportunity here to support 10,000 jobs and small businesses that are recovering and growing beyond the pandemic. The wage subsidies are designed to support people who have been impacted by the pandemic, and they are absolutely about supporting women back into work. Over $150 million of the fund supports women in jobs, and $50 million of that is to support women over the age of 45 back into work.”
Supporting priority groups
While the pandemic has touched almost every Victorian in some way, it has struck those who were already facing job challenges even harder. That’s why the fund, while widely inclusive, is particularly focused on getting people in need back on their feet and into secure work.
“At its heart, we are about supporting what we call ‘priority groups’ who have been impacted by the pandemic,” Buckingham says. “That includes a range of people. They are women, women over the age of 45, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people with disabilities, veterans, single parents, and others who may need some support to get back into the workplace. We’re really gearing our subsidies to those priority cohorts.”
How to apply for a wage subsidy
The program is designed to cut out a lot of the red tape that’s often associated with applying for grants and subsidies. Buckingham advises business owners to jump online and avail themselves of the application process and the type of paperwork they will need to provide.
“The first thing I would suggest is to get onto our website, www.jobs.vic.gov.au. There is a short, simple eligibility checklist that businesses can go through. It’s about five to six questions, and that’ll really help you understand if you are eligible, and it tells you the answer at the end.
“If an applicant is successful, you’ll receive a letter from Jobs Victoria. We will send out a grant agreement, which is then signed between the employer and Jobs Victoria. We pay in milestone payments – usually about three payments over the course of the 12 months — with a big payment upfront, and then about 30% and 30% in the second and third instalments. But we’re flexible about how we structure those milestone payments, recognising that some businesses are a little different.”
Apply for a Jobs Victoria wage subsidy for your business or learn more today. You can also watch the webinar, Open for business: Unpacking the Jobs Victoria wage subsidy, in full and on-demand.
Jobs Victoria can help businesses find the people they need and Victorians find their way back to work. Call 1300 208 575 or visit jobs.vic.gov.au/fund.