The federal government will invest $500 million in a new scheme aiming to provide Australians with the skills needed to find work in a post-pandemic economy.
The $1 billion JobTrainer program, set to be unveiled on Thursday, would require the state and territory governments to collectively match the government’s commitment.
The premiers and chief ministers were alerted to the plan at the national cabinet meeting last Friday.
Under the scheme, roughly 340,700 places to undertake short courses will be made available to school leavers and jobseekers, training them up for industries that the National Skills Commission believes will be in high demand.
The commission will work with the states and territories to identify skills shortages to be addressed by the scheme, but it is expected that courses will cover areas like health, social assistance, transport, postal, warehousing, manufacturing, retail trade and wholesale.
The courses will either be free or low-cost.
Scott Morrison has said the package would help Australians recover from the coronavirus pandemic, as “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”.
For those who’ve already obtained apprenticeships and traineeships, the government will invest a further $1.5 billion in its existing wage subsidy program and will extend it for another six months.
The $1.3 billion policy was announced back in March as a means to support apprentices and trainees by giving their employers a wage subsidy of 50% of salaries over nine months from January 1.
While the policy was expected to cover about 120,000 apprentices and trainees, recent figures showed only 75,000 were getting the subsidy.
The extra funds will cover employers who had up to 199 staff and an apprentice on July 1.
Meanwhile, for those who may not be suited to JobTrainer, Labor leader Anthony Albanese recently told The Age he plans to call for an eased approach to taking millions of Australians off of JobKeeper payments, rather than cutting off the income support suddenly.
“If you withdraw support too early you’ll end up with a recession that is deeper than it needed to be and goes for longer than it needed to go,” he said.
“The key is to not have a hard snap back, the key is to be responsive to how the economy’s going over a period of time.”
He is also pushing for a permanent increase to the JobSeeker payment, to support the unemployed while also benefitting the economy. He has not suggested what the increased rate should be, only that it should be higher than the old Newstart rate of $565.70 per fortnight.
The prime minister flagged the government’s plans to reform the skills sector and industrial relations system to help rebuild the economy back in May, under a JobMaker plan.
As part of the plan, the government has been undertaking a series of Skills Organisation Pilots, while the National Skills Commission has been working on detailed labour market analysis to help students with career and training choices by giving them comprehensive data on skills gaps and jobs.