Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a $2.5 billion JobTrainer skills program to increase access to upskilling and training in the post-COVID workplace, while also expanding the scope of the original apprenticeship subsidy to small and medium businesses with under 200 employees.
This year, $500 million will be invested by the Commonwealth government and $500 million by the states and territories to increase access to short courses and full qualifications to prepare for a post-pandemic workplace, the PM said.
“It is not just for young people,” he confirmed.
“JobTrainer will ensure more Australians have the chance to reskill or upskill to fill the jobs on the other side of this crisis.
“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," said Mr Morrison.
Speaking on 2GB Breakfast radio on Thursday morning, the Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, Michaelia Cash, explained that it will up to the states and territories to deliver JobTrainer.
“It’s all about upskilling, reskilling, retraining into areas that we know are in demand and have a job,” Ms Cash said.
According to Ms Cash, priority areas will be mining and resources, construction, ICT, health aged and disability care.
“They're the obvious ones where we know there is that growth,” Ms Cash said.
Apprentice wage subsidy boost
Addressing the additional cash being rolled out to expand the apprentice wage incentives, PM Morrison explained that around 90,000 small and medium businesses and 180,000 apprentices will benefit.
In addition to small businesses already covered, the wage subsidy will now be available to medium businesses with less than 200 employees for apprentices employed as at 1 July 2020, with the program extended by six months to March 2021.
The initiative covers 50 per cent of the wages paid to apprentices and trainees, up to $7,000 per quarter.
“All those businesses out there, 200 employees or less, you now qualify,” Ms Cash said.
“So, for all of those small businesses out there who have already qualified, you will now get an extra six months of support. We want to see apprentices and trainees kept on the job, and that’s what this $1.5 billion will do.”
States and territories need to sign up to a new Heads of Agreement to access JobTrainer funding, with the agreement setting out immediate reforms to improve the vocational education and training sector, and providing the foundation for long term improvements as outlined by the Prime Minister in his recent speech to the National Press Club.