The recent Budget and VET? It’s mostly all about support for apprentices and trainees as we highlight the treasurer’s speech and a number of the budget papers.
But there are other things there too.
First, the federal government has established the $1 billion JobTrainer fund to create up to 340,000 free or low‑cost training places for school leavers and job seekers. And they are also funding:
“50,000 new higher education short courses in agriculture, health, IT, science and teaching, 12,000 new Commonwealth supported places for higher education in 2021, [and] 2,000 indigenous students through the Clontarf Foundation to complete Year 12 and pursue further education or find employment.”
In addition, there is the “second Women’s Economic Security Statement, with $240 million in measures and programs to support:
New cadetships and apprenticeships for women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, job creation and entrepreneurialism, and women’s safety at work and at home.”
VET does get one mention – briefly – in the economic recovery plan for Australia related to Jobmaker noting that:
“The Government is committed to strengthening our VET system to get Australians into work and help drive the nation’s prosperity in the years to come. The Government will work with all states and territories to negotiate a new national skills agreement, as agreed to in the Heads of Agreement for Skills Reform.”
That same plan has a bit to say about increased funding both to support existing apprentices and trainees and attract new ones.
The Commonwealth has committed to $2.8 billion for the Supporting Apprentices and Trainees Wage Subsidy to help businesses keep their apprentices and trainees employed. Eligible employers can apply for a wage subsidy of 50% of an apprentice’s or trainee’s
wage paid from 1 July 2020 to 31 March 2021, up to a cap of $7,000 per quarter. Employers of any size, including Group Training Organisations, that re-engage an eligible out-of-trade apprentice or trainee will also be eligible for the subsidy.
In addition, the Government is committing an additional $1.2 billion through the Boosting Apprenticeships Wage Subsidy to increase the number of new apprenticeships and traineeships. In this way, they aim to support up to 100,000 new apprentices and trainees though a 50% wage subsidy – again to a maximum of $7000 per quarter.
There has been a lot of media, mostly positive, about these initiatives. The Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA) was positive, as were the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), the Australian industry Group (AiG), Business NSW, and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA. Others welcoming the move include the Housing Industry Association and National Electrical and Communications Association (NECA).
The Australian Labor Party, while welcoming the initiative, continues to voice its concern over what is sees as the sustained decline in apprentice numbers.