$1.2b jobs bonanza to supercharge tradie-led recovery
Half the salary of new apprentices and trainees in any industry will be paid for by the Federal government for one year under a wage subsidy scheme to drive jobs growth.
Flagged as the single biggest investment in a trainee commencement scheme, the Morrison government has set aside $1.2 billion for Australian businesses to employ 100,000 new workers as part of its COVID-19 economic recovery plan.
Starting on Monday, businesses who take on a new apprentice or trainee will be eligible for a 50 per cent wage subsidy, regardless of geographic location, occupation, industry or business size.
The move has been welcomed by the construction and hospitality sectors, where thousands of laid off trainee staff now have an opportunity to resume paid work.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said apprenticeships and traineeships were an important pathway to get young people into jobs while also ensuring a "skills pipeline" to meet the future needs of employers.
"During this pandemic the Federal Government has been focused on supporting and creating jobs as well as identifying the skills we need in the economic rebuild," he said.
"Already 760,000 jobs that were either lost or reduced to zero hours as the COVID crisis hit, have come back into our economy. We want to continue to recover what has been lost and get young people into work.
"Whether it's the manufacturing, housing and construction, arts or mining sectors - this new wage subsidy gives businesses certainty to hire and provides a career path to aspiring, young tradies."
Under the new measure, the subsidy will be available to employers of any size or industry until the 100,000 cap is reached.
Employers will be eligible for 50 per cent of the wages for a new or recommencing apprentice or trainee for the period up to September 30, 2021, up to $7,000 per quarter.
Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business Minister Michaelia Cash said the measure built on the existing $2.8 billion Supporting Apprentices and Trainees wage subsidy that was helping employers to retain their apprentices and trainees.
As many as 90,000 businesses employing around 180,000 apprentices throughout
Australia were being supported as part of the subsidy.
"This wage subsidy is all about supercharging our skills-led recovery and giving Australians the opportunity to be part of rebuilding out economy," she said.
Master Builders Association chief executive Denita Wawn said anecdotally about 3000 construction apprentices had lost their jobs since the start of the pandemic.
The wage subsidy would not only allow employers to take on new apprentices, but rehire some of those that were let go.
And not all apprentices were in the typical 17-18 year age group, with an increase in young adults - some having started a degree only to decide it was not for them - also trying to enter the industry in the past five years, she said.
"This is significant for the building construction industry, which, in March, employed just under 60,000 construction trade apprentices," Ms Wawn said.
"We are concerned at least 3000 of those have since lost their jobs, but more importantly, there are employers who have stopped taking on apprentices because of concerns of a downturn in business.
"One of the things builders had asked for were employer subsidies, which will not only hopefully allow for those who lost their jobs to be re-employed, but also encourage employers to take on first year apprentices. If we think about all those Baby Boomers who will be retiring, it is crucial that we continue to build a skilled workforce."
Australian Hotels Association (AHA) chief executive officer Stephen Ferguson said food service industry had projected a need for thousands of new chefs over the next few years on top of the existing 11,290 apprentices.
The industry also took on a lot of mature-aged trainees, including parents wanting to re-skill.
"The food service industry covers clubs, cafes, pubs, restaurants - anyone that serves a hot meal," he said.
"This will be a massive benefit to us, whether it be for a junior apprentice or mature age worker wanting to re-skill, especially as the industry is projecting a need for 16,800 chefs over the next five years.
"We have a lot of mature-age people wanting to come back in to the workforce - mums, parents looking to come back and re-skill."
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, who will on Tuesday hand down what has been described as the most important budget since WWII, recently revealed young workers would suffer an eight per cent hit to wages as a result of the impact of the pandemic.
Apprentice carpenter Jordan Heap counts himself lucky having seen some of his friends at Hornsby TAFE lose their jobs.
The 18-year-old first year apprentice who lives with his parents at Mount Colah has been kept on by his employer Crearter Constructions.
"A few guys from TAFE have been let go, but my boss has kept me on," he said.
"I'm the only apprentice.
"There's been some slow weeks. We mainly do work on the northern beaches. I just want to finish my apprenticeship."
Details about the subsidy can be found here: https://www.employment.gov.au/boosting-apprenticeship-commencements