100,000 new apprentice jobs covered by $1.2 billion wage subsidies
Trainees and apprentices hired from today onwards will have half their wages subsidised by taxpayer funds for one year.
It’s a $1.2 billion cash injection that is set to support 100,000 people to step into a career, and is available to any-sized organisation who puts them on the books.
The government is introducing the scheme in a bid to get young and unemployed people into the workforce, while also trying to preemptively correct the growing issue of a future skill shortage.
This announcement rolls off the back of the Federal Government’s $1.5 billion budget to stop current apprentices being laid off amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, which was announced in July.
The new scheme aims to address the concerns of:
Who are experiencing significant anxiety over securing employment after high school.
Who need to re-train amid the pandemic to secure employment in a new field.
Who want to hire new apprentices but are experiencing cash flow issues due to the pandemic.
COVID-19 has already caused an 11% drop in apprenticeship and traineeship commencements as shown in NCVER’s March quarterly snapshot, and the number of suspended contracts is at a record five-year high. However, it’s important to note that the shrinking pool of apprentices wasn’t started by the pandemic – from 2016 to 2020, apprenticeship commencements had already fallen by 14.8%.
Despite this, the government is confident the measure will both create more jobs to pull Australia through the COVID-19 recession, and provide assurance to those anxious about their future.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, “Whether it’s the manufacturing, housing and construction, arts or mining sectors, this new wage subsidy gives businesses certainty to hire and provides a career path to aspiring, young tradies.”
Is This Subsidy Industry Specific?
Since many apprenticeships exist in male-dominated industries, like construction, the budget’s announcement brought forth concerns that women – who have been disproportionately affected by unemployment compared to men during the pandemic – have been overlooked.
However, the scheme is not limited to specific industries, and it’s hoped that it will capture trainees and apprentices in a vast number of fields. Treasurer Josh Frydenburg says the budget will be available to any trainee, from, “People who are working as bakers, hairdressers, those who are sparkies, those who are plumbers.”
Traineeships and apprenticeships in industries like beauty therapy, building and construction, arts, manufacturing and mining are all expected to be bolstered by the new budget. It’s also predicted to create improved hiring opportunities in the areas of IT, business administration, aged care and graphic design.
The risk remains that with women only representing 24.4% of apprentices currently in training and the budget capped at 100,000 places, the majority of it might go towards supporting men. Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, Michaelia Cash, is imploring women to jump on the opportunity to commence an apprenticeship.
“I would say to any young girls out there who are finishing up school now, put your hand up,” Senator Cash said at a press conference.
Exciting Opportunities for People Looking for a Vocational Education
As Australia continues shaking off a decades-old stigma that true career value is found only through a university education, this budget is another step in creating brighter prospects for those keen to pursue a vocational education.
For some, now might even be the time to pivot career paths and start something new. While daunting, it’s not impossible.
Hughy Thomas, a 23 year old second-year plumbing apprentice says, “I started my apprenticeship because I wasn’t happy with my career path at uni, and had always enjoyed hands-on sort of work. So, I thought I’d give plumbing a go.
“I find my job really rewarding and fulfilling for the most part. I have always enjoyed hands-on work and problem solving, and plumbing is both of those things rolled into one, so I really enjoy my job and look forward to work each day,” Hughy says. He is one among tens of thousands of Australians who pursue a mature age apprenticeship each year.
For those wanting to start a vocational education, regardless of age or experience, this is one of the best opportunities to secure a career.
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