The Liberal and Nationals’ Government will invest $60 million to trial a wage subsidy as an incentive for employers in regional and rural communities to engage more apprentices.
Joining Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals’ Leader Michael McCormack in Wagga Wagga today, Minister for Small and Family Business, Skills and Vocational Education Senator Michaelia Cash said the trial would see up to 1,630 new Australian Apprentices in areas of skills needs.
"The investment is part of our Government’s commitment to maintain a strong vocational education and training (VET) sector with a focus on supporting business needs and a quality skilled workforce," Minister Cash said.
"There are 3.3 million Australian small businesses which contribute around $395 billion annually to our economy. Small business plays a vital role in our community, from giving young Australians their first real job to supporting our local charities and sporting organisations.
"Through this incentive we are securing the skills our regional and rural businesses need to remain competitive and give local students new opportunities at home."
From 1 January 2019, the new subsidy under the Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Program (AAIP), will support eligible new Australian Apprentices in areas such as plumbing, mechanical, electrical, painting trades and hairdressing.
Minister Cash said under the subsidy, eligible employers will be able to receive payments based on the apprentice’s relevant award wage rates.
"Subsidies will be provided at 75 per cent of the apprentice’s award wage in the first year, followed with 50 per cent in the second year and 25 per cent in the third year."
Deputy Prime Minister, Nationals’ Leader and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the incentive will provide a much-needed boost to communities throughout regional and rural Australia.
"It’s an incentive that I’m confident will encourage businesses and employers to engage a new apprentice and turbo-charge someone’s future career," Mr McCormack said.
"I often say that country communities are naturally communities of small business, so this investment from the Liberal and Nationals’ Government is just another practical step to help create jobs and opportunities for small businesses and young people in the regions.
"A VET qualification is every bit as important to the economy as a university degree.
"That’s why our investment in the Skilling Australians Fund – alongside New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania, Northern Territory and the ACT – is vital to create thousands of additional pre-apprenticeships, apprenticeships and higher apprenticeships."
The new wage subsidy will complement other incentives currently available through the AAIP and support the engagement of eligible new full-time apprentices at the Certificate III and IV levels in occupations on the National Skills Needs List in regional and rural communities.