Thumbs up for $145M apprentice support

The Securing Apprenticeships Plan offers increased incentives for employers and group training organisations.Under the plan, employers and training organisations will receive an extra $1000 when an apprenticeship is completed.In addition, employers and training organisations that take on eligible out-of-work apprentices at Certificate III or IV level in any skills shortage areas will receive a wage subsidy of $1800. “The Securing Apprenticeships Plan is a welcome initiative in supporting employers to retain apprentices in what will be a very difficult economic environment over the next two years,” Master Builders Australia chief executive Wilhelm Harnisch said.“Apprentices will carry the future of the building and construction industry, and Master Builders Australia warmly welcomes this support from the Australian government, which is an investment in both the future of our apprentices and of the nation,” he said. The Australian Council of Trade Unions said now is the time to ensure young people are involved in training and job placement programs. “Unfortunately, apprentices are often the first to be shown the door when a business falls on tough times, ACTU president Sharan Burrow said. “Having a program in place to assist apprentices [to] complete their training is absolutely important because evidence shows that young people who stop their training part way through an apprenticeship rarely restart it,” Burrow said. Burrow said that to be fully effective, the Securing Apprenticeships Plan needed to be backed by a comprehensive national database to match out-of-trade apprentices with potential employers or training organisations. She said the new preference in government-funded infrastructure projects to be given to businesses that had a commitment to training and apprenticeships was a positive example of how procurement policies could deliver good outcomes for Australian jobs.The Australian Industry Group also backed the plan, saying it was well targeted and very timely. “Even though employers are very reluctant to retrench apprentices the $1000 payable on the successful completion of eligible apprentices or trainees will increase the likelihood of more of them being kept on,” Ai Group chief executive Heather Ridout said.“The $1800 wage subsidy will be enormously valuable in supporting out-of-trade apprentices in their efforts to secure new employment,” she said.“The big challenge will be not to come out of the current economic downturn with a big skill shortages gap to fill, and the package of measures highlights the importance of supporting training and employment in this very difficult economic environment,” Ridout said.

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