New rules introduced by the Australian Government mean that apprentices can now be reimbursed for a number of outgoing expenses. Australia’s 62,000 apprentices will carry less short-term financial burden by claiming back costs for textbooks, course fees, travel and accommodation.
Apprenticeship completion rates need improving.
The new guidelines should result in a greater number of apprentices completing their commitments and joining the workforce as fully qualified tradespeople. At present, apprenticeship completion rates are disappointing, with only 47% of students completing their training. Expenses and low wages are considered major obstacles for apprentices.
Ged Kearney, President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, believes the new incentives will “ensure all apprentices can be reimbursed for their training costs, making it easier for thousands of young Australians to finish their trade and get a job.”
Gaining a qualification for life
The scheme is applicable for both new apprentices and those already in training. Apprenticeships are an important feature of the Australian workforce, as high school graduates can find a course that suits them related to a career that is in demand, ensuring greater work opportunities upon course completion. Trades qualified people, regardless of age, are more able to adapt to new technologies and find a highly paid niche market in their specialist field.
The news is not all positive, however. Although apprentices will be able to meet training expenses more easily, the government has also cut many apprentice support programmes and introduced a loan scheme, similar to tertiary institutions, that will ultimately result in student debt for qualified apprentices once they are in the workforce.
It’s hoped that the incentives will result in lower drop-out rates and translate into a more cost effective apprenticeship scheme with less burden on government finances overall. Greater numbers of apprentices transitioning into qualified and productive members of the Australian workforce is the desired goal, although it will be several years before we know if the new apprenticeship scheme structure is a success.