An expanded program to support businesses taking on apprentice and trainee trades people, hairdressers, plumbers, tilers and chefs will cost the government $365.3 million – all in a bid to lift rates of unemployment.
The extra money will pay for an additional 35,000 new apprentices and trainees, adding to an existing nationwide pool of 350,000 apprentices and trainees in-training and a record 220,000 in the workforce.
Prime minister Scott Morrison announced the expanded Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements and Completing Apprenticeship Commencements program at the weekend.
In a joint statement with treasurer Josh Frydenberg and employment, workforce, skills, small and family business minister Stuart Robert at the weekend, the pm said the funding would drive down unemployment.
“Trades training shores up our skills pipeline, gets people into work, drives down unemployment and gives businesses the confidence to keep on hiring,” Morrison said.
“Learning a trade doesn’t just give you skills for a job, it gives you the skills and opportunities for your future,” he added, noting many young people he had spoken to wanted to set up businesses of their own one day.
The program extension will give a 12-month wage subsidy to employers who take on a new apprentice or trainee to the end of June 2022. Businesses who enrol in the program before the end of the financial year are eligible for the extended government support in the second and third year of an apprenticeship under the scheme.
According to the treasurer, the apprentice and trainee program would help Australia’s economic recovery as part of a wider government plan to skill young Australians. Frydenberg claimed there were 120,000 more young people employed today than when a Labor government was last in power in 2013.
“The 2022-23 budget will outline the government’s long term economic plan to create more jobs,” Frydenberg said, foreshadowing the government announcements to be handed down in tomorrow’s budget.
Robert said the government had invested $7.8 billion in the skills sector in 2021-22. The Boosting Apprenticeship program had supported 75,000 women with their trade or trainee training since it launched 18 months ago, he added.
“Australia can’t afford to lose the momentum we have created on skills,” Robert said.
More than 73,000 businesses had joined the program as of 24 March.