A $2 billion JobTrainer funding package will see hundreds of thousands of Australians retained and upskilled into sectors with job opportunities, such as the construction industry.
The billion-dollar program aims to provide up to an additional 340,700 training places to help school leavers and job seekers access short and long courses to develop new skills in growth sectors and create a pathway to more qualifications.
It also aims to guarantee support for thousands of apprentices in jobs across the country by subsidising their wages to keep them employed and their training secured.
Courses will be free or low cost in areas of identified need, with the Federal Government providing $500 million with matched contributions from state and territory governments.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the JobTrainer package was focused on getting people into jobs.
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“JobTrainer will ensure more Australians have the chance to reskill or upskill to fill the jobs on the other side of this crisis,” Morrison said.
“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.
“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.”
The package also includes an additional $1.5 billion to expand the wage incentive to help keep apprentices in work. It builds on the initial $1.3 billion package announced in March.
In addition to small businesses, medium businesses with less than 200 employees will be able to access the wage subsidy.
The program was extended by six months to March 2021, with around 180,000 apprentices and 90,000 small and medium businesses to be supported.
The initiative covers 50 per cent of the wages paid to apprentices and trainees, up to $7,000 per quarter.
Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business Minister Michaelia Cash said the JobTrainer package would form a vital part of the national recovery efforts.
“Our nation has faced many challenges, and it is critical that we keep our apprentices in jobs and help those looking for work,” Cash said.
“This package will be essential as the economy rebuilds so that people looking for work can reskill and upskill for in-demand jobs, provide school leavers with a pathway into their careers, and ensure businesses are able to get the skilled workers they need.”
Vocational Education, Training and Apprenticeships Assistant Minister Steve Irons said the expanded waged subsidy would more than double the number of supported apprentices and trainees.
“The Supporting Apprentices and Trainees wage subsidy will now help almost 90,000 businesses employing around 180,000 apprentices and trainees throughout Australia,” Irons said.
“This will dramatically improve the viability of tens of thousands of apprenticeships and the businesses employing them right across the country.”
Master Builders Australia CEO Denita Wawn said the building and construction industry trains more apprentices and provides more full-time jobs than any other sector in the economy.
“We look forward to being involved in the implementation of this $2 billion package,” Wawn said.
“With the support of measures like JobTrainer, HomeBuilder and hopefully more stimulus measures and policy reforms in the future our industry will play a vital in rebuilding Australia.”