Huge upskilling program for jobless

IN a sign the Federal Government is fully committed to both apprentices and stimulus programs that include the word 'Job' in the title, a new initiative has been announced.

The JobTrainer package, announced yesterday, will include $1.5 billion in wage subsidies for apprentices and $500 million in new education courses for the unemployed, giving some much-needed breathing space.

The JobTrainer package also joins JobSeeker, JobKeeper and JobMaker programs in the Government's revamped post-coronavirus arsenal.

While there was no increase on the 50 per cent apprentice wage subsidy, its continuation was what Business NSW regional manager Kellon Beard has been campaigning for.

"Businesses will be heartened by the ongoing support for apprentices beyond September 30, which was looming large as an economic cliff," Mr Beard said.

Cowper MP Pat Conaghan also welcomed the measures and the impact they would have on the 539 businesses already receiving the wage subsidy in the electorate.

Federal Member for Cowper Pat Conaghan with Bachrach Naumburger Group General Manager Steve Gooley, inspecting work on the company's $150 million Park Beach development The Shoreline today.
Federal Member for Cowper Pat Conaghan with Bachrach Naumburger Group General Manager Steve Gooley, inspecting work on the company's $150 million Park Beach development The Shoreline today.

The subsidies will be extended for a further six months and expand to include medium sized businesses with fewer than 199 employees.

"I know local businesses have been doing it tough with about three-quarters of businesses suffering a direct impact from COVID-19," he said.

"It will enable businesses with apprentices who were previously ineligible to now receive support as medium businesses with up to 199 employees are now eligible for the wage subsidy for apprentices in place on July 1."

However, the business community isn't just concerned with keeping current apprentices employed, there are real fears the downturn will lead to record low levels of apprentices in years to come.

Their concerns come off the back of a report released last week which predicted there would be 30 per cent less apprentices starting this year compared with 2019.

It equated to about 54,000 apprenticeships Australia wide.

"On the down side, it is disappointing there has been no announced increase in support for those wanting to commence an apprenticeship," Mr Beard said.

"The nation is still at risk of significant skills shortages in three to four years' time without new starters coming on board.

"But the Government has shown it is serious about taking steps to address this issue now, and we commend them for it."

Coffs City Council GM Steve McGrath with Kellon Beard regional manager Mid North Coast, NSW Business Chamber.
Coffs City Council GM Steve McGrath with Kellon Beard regional manager Mid North Coast, NSW Business Chamber.

The other aspect of the new measures will help the thousands of people left unemployed across the state upskill, in courses and industries to be determined by the National Skills Commission.

The planned $500m investment will create 340,000 education places administered by Tafe or other private education providers.

"As part of the JobTrainer package, the National Skills Commission will need to ensure that the short courses being offered support people into employment or at least dramatically increase their chances of employment," Mr Beard said.

"At the top of Business NSW's agenda has been the availability of proper funding to train people for the jobs of the future and to close the skills gap.

"We look forward to working with Governments of all levels to identify the types of short courses needed."



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