Subject/s: $2 billion JobTrainer skills announcement, ABS Labour Force predictions, JobSeeker
ALLISON LANGDON: Thousands of out of work people or those facing unemployment are being promised $2 billion in a cash splash to retrain and reskill young people.
KARL STEFANOVIC: Federal Minister for Employment, Michaelia Cash, joins us now. Good morning to you. Thank you for your time today, really appreciate it. Before we get to that, if we can talk about jobs, those jobs figures are out today – it has to be looking pretty grim?
MINISTER CASH: Oh look, every job lost - and we discussed this last time on the show - as a result of COVID-19 is devastating. The figures today will be the figures today. The Prime Minister has made it very, very clear - our focus as a government is to reopen the economy, to get businesses back into business, and as many Australians as we can back into work.
KARL STEFANOVIC: How bad will they be?
MINISTER CASH: Oh look, market predictions are all over the place today. I mean, certainly the labour force predictions are that unemployment will remain at 7.1 per cent with an increase in the participation rate. But again, it doesn't matter; any job lost as a result of COVID-19 is devastating, and that is why our sole focus as a government is to ensure the safe reopening of the Australian economy and to get Australians back into work.
And that, of course, is why today we are announcing the $2 billion JobTrainer skills package. It's a great announcement, it’ll assist apprentices and trainees across Australia to remain in their jobs, but it will also ensure that we are creating hundreds of thousands of additional training places, working with the states and territories, in areas of great need.
ALLISON LANGDON: But those jobs could be a year away, right?
MINISTER CASH: No, the training that we want, we want it to commence in September-October of this year. We already know where some of the areas of demand are, we will continue to work with the states and territories to identify future areas of demand. So, you could be doing a short course in October of this year at low cost or no cost, and going straight into a job. And that's the whole point of the package. It's also the point of the Government's focus; you've got to ensure the training system is training people in areas of demand. Training must be linked to jobs, and that is the Government's focus.
KARL STEFANOVIC: There’s been lots of talk about JobKeeper and JobSeeker – and we’ve asked repeatedly whether or not you’re going to extend it. Can you give us any indication on what your plans are at this point?
MINISTER CASH: Well, certainly JobKeeper and JobSeeker were temporary measures. But as you know, and the Prime Minister’s been very upfront, as a government we are aware that there are some businesses who are still doing it tough. And that is why on 23 July the Treasurer will update Australians on the state of the economy, and he will make announcements in relation to the further levels of support that will be provided.
But to all of those businesses out there today, small and medium businesses with 200 employees or less who have apprentices and trainees in training on their books, we have announced today support for them, a 50 per cent wage subsidy. It commenced earlier this year, we have currently around 85,000 apprentices that are still in training because of this wage subsidy. And we hope now to extend it to up to 180,000 apprentices and trainees in training for a further six months. That is a good announcement today for employers out there who just need that assistance to keep their apprentices and trainees on the job, which is where we want them.
KARL STEFANOVIC: Okay. Alright. Just finally, because I know there’s been a lot of concern from some businesses in relation to JobKeeper. We know that Victoria is down and out at the moment, terribly worrying for small businesses. Are you concerned that some may go bankrupt trying to pay back JobKeeper? I know that there was a whole bunch of people going into this and then possibly having to let go staff, but then they have to still pay the entitlements that are accrued. Is there any way of navigating through that at all?
MINISTER CASH: Well, certainly if you’re qualified for JobKeeper, you retain that right for the six-month period. What we are now looking at as a government – and that is why the Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will address the nation on 23 July, he will outline what that next level of support is. The Government is completely aware that there are businesses who are still doing it tough, and that is why in two weeks’ time, further announcements will be made as to that next level of support.
KARL STEFANOVIC: We know you know what it is, so why don't you tell us?
MINISTER CASH: Because I'll get in trouble. [Laughter] No. But no, today the big announcement is $2 billion, upskilling, reskilling and keeping apprentices and trainees in jobs. And that's what I'm focused on as the Skills Minister.
KARL STEFANOVIC: Thanks Michaelia, talk to you very soon. Appreciate it.