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A win for Apprenticeships – Federal Budget promises $525 million into Vocational Education sector

Last night’s budget announcement included particular skills-shortage occupations that are promised to receive further incentives under the Additional Identified Skills Shortage (AISS) payment, worth $156.3 million of the overall investment into the vocational education sector.

The AISS payment will offer employers double the current financial incentive of $4,000 (for eligible occupations), increasing this amount to $8,000.

Over the next five years, to encourage the uptake of 80,000 new apprentices into these occupations, a new initiative will provide $1,000 to apprentices after completion of their first year and a further $1,000 on completion of their qualification. These occupations include:

  • Carpenters and Joiners
  • Plumbers
  • Hairdressers
  • Air-conditioning and Refrigeration Mechanics
  • Bricklayers and Stonemasons
  • Plasterers
  • Bakers and Pastry cooks
  • Vehicle Painters
  • Wall and Floor Tilers
  • Arborists

The 20-year old Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Program (AAIP) will also be replaced with a simplified and streamlined incentives program for employers of apprentices and trainees, the Incentives for Australian Apprenticeships (IAA). This will streamline payment structure and eligibility criteria with the number of payment categories reduced from 31 to 14 and make the payment structure easier for employers to understand and claim incentives.

The rest of the promised $525 million dollars into the vocational education sector will be invested in:

  • a National Skills Commission, recommended by Steve Joyce’s review into the vocational education sector, with the commissioner providing national stewardship of the sector to improve the quality of training and completions; and
  • implementing a national careers institute and careers ambassador to raise the profile and appeal of vocational education.

Skills and Vocational Education Minister Michaelia Cash believes the measures will enhance the sector “as a direct pathway into Australia’s labour market” and that the package “provides clear and reliable careers guidance to inform study choices, provides foundational skills so no one is left behind and will get more apprentices in jobs in areas of demand”.

Managing Director of BUSY At Work, Paul Miles, stated “Addressing industry skills shortages is a national issue with business and industry leaders playing a key role in maintaining industry training and succession planning for their workers”.

“In addition to substantial financial and other incentives already on offer to employers and apprentices in an effort to combat the skills-shortage crisis, we welcome this additional investment and believe it is necessary for vocational skills growth in Australia. We encourage business owners to consider apprenticeships or traineeships for their existing or new staff to not only increase skills in their own business, but for their industry,” Paul further stated.

The Budget also forecast that the 5% percent unemployment rate will remain steady for the next four years and tipped wages to grow from 2.5% to 3.5% in the 2021-22 period.

More information regarding apprenticeships and traineeships can be found on the BUSY At Work website.

To advertise an apprenticeship or traineeship opportunity or to search for opportunities, go to the Apprenticeship Central website.

ABC News
Sydney Morning Herald

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