Release type: Media Release


Government and industry partner to combat skills shortages


Senator the Hon Mark Arbib
Minister for Employment Participation
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Government Service Delivery

Joint Media Release with The Hon Julia Gillard MP and The Hon Jason Clare MP

The Deputy Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, today hosted a national Keep Australian Apprentices Working Roundtable to address continuing trade skill shortages across Australia.

Ms Gillard, Minister for Employment Participation Mark Arbib and Parliamentary Secretary for Employment Jason Clare highlighted the need for continuing employer support for apprentices as Australia begins to emerge from the global recession.

Representatives at the Roundtable included the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Australian Industry Group, Group Training Australia and most of the 11 Industry Skills Councils.

The Roundtable agreed to promote and support the Government’s Apprentice Kickstart initiative which more than triples the first year incentive paid to employers who take on an eligible apprentice this summer.

The increased bonus will be available between 1 December 2009 and 28 February 2010, or until 21 000 apprentices commence in skill shortage trades.

The Roundtable also agreed to support the work of the COAG Australian Apprentices Taskforce, which has found the need for:

  • a more seamless and streamlined Australian Apprenticeships system;
  • improved pre-apprenticeship arrangements;
  • strengthened mentoring and support arrangements for employers and Australian Apprentices;
  • a re-prioritisation of Australian Apprenticeships incentives payments; and
  • working with Government to ensure that the design of future pre-apprenticeship programs will assist the supply of future trades people.

Ms Gillard said the Roundtable was a further Government response to a 20 per cent drop in people starting trade apprenticeships compared to the same time last year.

Senator Arbib said the Australian Government believes strong partnerships with industry are necessary to build the skills base needed for economic recovery.

Senator Arbib said that there is a strong future for the apprenticeship system if we modernise the structure of apprenticeships and make the system more user-friendly for employers and apprentices alike.

“We need better pathways for younger and older workers to get into trade apprenticeships. We need a more seamless system and less red tape for employers.

“We need a focus on green skills for a cleaner, smarter economy and we need opportunities for apprentices to defer and to resume their studies, without penalty.”

Mr Clare said the Government also wanted to embed competency based progression and to lift completion rates through stronger mentoring, supervision and pastoral support.

The Australian Government is investing $5 billion over four years in Australian Apprenticeships and related programs.

The Government has committed an additional quarter of a billion dollars to support the apprenticeship system during the global recession and the Roundtable is a further demonstration of our commitment to working with industry, unions and employer groups to boost apprenticeships.

For information on apprenticeships visit