SMEs offered $3,350 carrot in Kickstart apprentice program

Small businesses in the building and construction industries have until February 28 to take advantage of the federal government’s Kickstart program, which rewards employers with an additional $3,350 for taking on a new apprentice.


The Apprentice Kickstart Initiative, which launched in December, is an employer incentive designed to increase the number of Australian apprenticeship commencements in the building and construction industries.


The $57.5 million program, aimed at SMEs and eligible group training organisations, is designed to create up to 21,000 extra apprenticeships in the construction industry.


It triples the incentive paid to employers in the first year who take on a new apprentice between December 1 and February 28.


This is in addition to the $1,500 commencement payment for eligible employers.


Just two weeks after its launch, almost 500 potential apprentices had registered for the program.


According to Skills Minister Chris Evans, applications have been received nationwide, with strongest demand so far in carpentry, plumbing and engineering fabrication.


Apprentices in Victoria, NSW and Queensland have registered the most interest. More than 200 potential apprentices have applied in Victoria, 112 in NSW and 109 in Queensland.


Evans said in a statement Kickstart is delivering a “great boost” for the building and construction sector, and will create new opportunities for thousands of young people.


“This is the perfect opportunity for school leavers in particular to get a head start on a successful and rewarding career in the industry,” Evans said.


“We will need more skilled tradespeople in the housing sector as we approach the predicted upturn in 2014 and 2015.


“Kickstart is about training the next generation of plumbers, electricians, carpenters and other tradespeople in this vital industry now so that we are ahead of the game.”


The Kickstart initiative builds on the success of the Kickstart Bonus and the Kickstart Extension programs, where $120 million was invested to support trade commencements in the wake of the global financial crisis.


Meanwhile, as part of the 2012 federal budget, the government announced the Training Support Post Apprenticeship initiative.


This initiative will provide $19.5 million over four years to support up to 3,500 people who have recently completed their trade training and are seeking to establish a new business or to operate as a sub-contractor.


It is designed to help sub-contractors and new business operators meet business and employment regulations, and develop sound financial and business plans.


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