Apprentice wages will get extra subsidies

The federal government is beefing up its support for training in a bid to equip school leavers and young Australians with the skills the nation will need after the coronavirus pandemic.

It will add $1.5 billion to wage subsidies for apprentices and trainees, expanding the scheme announced in March to cover medium-sized businesses with under 200 employees and extending it for six months, until March 2021.

Assistant training minister Steve Irons said this would dramatically improve the viability of apprenticeships in tens of thousands of businesses across Australia.

The initial program, announced as part of the government’s first tranche of coronavirus economic support, covered half of an apprentice’s wage for nine months until the end of September.

Its expansion gives it the potential to cover more than 91,300 businesses.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is also offering states a billion-dollar plan to offer free or very low cost short courses to 340,700 school leavers and people looking for work.

The new National Skills Commission will identify which specific skills shortages courses should cover, but they are expected to include areas like health care, transport, manufacturing and retail.

Mr Morrison is backing the plan with $500 million in commonwealth money, to be matched by the states, and has branded it JobTrainer.

The money is an incentive for states to sign up to a revamped agreement on vocational education, which is still being worked out.

It’s understood most were supportive when the idea was discussed at the national cabinet meeting last Friday.

“COVID-19 is unprecedented but I want Australians to be ready for the sorts of jobs that will come as we build back and recover,” Mr Morrison said.

“The jobs and skills we’ll need as we come out of the crisis are not likely to be the same as those that were lost.”

Katina Curtis, AAP Senior Political Writer
(Australian Associated Press)