Government launches $558m staff training fund

Employers are being encouraged to apply for government funding as part of the new $558 million National Workforce Development Fund, enabling businesses to purchase training for workers.


In a bid to support training in skill-starved sectors, the Federal Government will provide $558 million over four years to businesses, training organisations, and industry skills councils.


Under the fund, enterprises identify their current and future business and workforce needs, and apply for funding to support the training of both new and existing workers.


During 2011-12, a greater share of funding will be available for aged care and construction, both of which are tipped to face severe skills shortages in the future.


Chris Evans, Minister for Skills and Jobs, said construction in particular will continue to demand new skills as it undergoes phenomenal growth.


“Construction is the third largest sector and is experiencing strong growth as a result of the flow-on effects of the mining boom,” Senator Evans said in a statement.


“Funding support will be available for accredited training for new and existing workers to help meet businesses’ skills demands.”


Enterprises will be able to purchase the training they need in a format that suits their businesses.


Qualifications include Certificate II, III, IV, Diploma, Advanced Diploma, Vocational Graduate Certificate and Vocational Graduate Diploma.


Businesses will make bids to their respective industry skills councils to secure matched funding, with small businesses receiving more assistance.


The co-contribution model means small enterprises will contribute 33% of the cost of training, while medium enterprises will contribute 50% and large enterprises will contribute 66%.


A spokesperson for the minister said there is no ceiling for the cost of a project or the cost per participant, although any application for funding must include a costing justification.


“The NWDF will be managed by the new Workforce and Productivity Agency once it is established in 2012,” the spokesperson said in a statement.


“The agency will have a key role in determining the arrangements for the delivery of training, and the priority sectors and occupations to be targeted from July 1, 2012.”


It is estimated more than 1,700 employers and more than 129,000 workers will benefit from the fund. Applications close on September 30.


The establishment of a Workforce and Productivity Agency comes after Australian Industry Group chief executive Heather Ridout called for the creation of a workforce development agency.


“Australia’s approach to workforce training needs a major overhaul,” Ridout said earlier this year.


“The creation of a Workforce Development Agency… would see the consolidation of programs related to workplace development brought into one body, thereby sharpening the economic focus of the system and strengthening industry’s voice.”


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