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State government introduces Jobs Queensland bill

The Queensland government has introduced a new piece of legislation in the state parliament aimed at boosting the vocational education and training (VET) sector.

Training and Skills Minister Yvette D’Ath said the Jobs Queensland bill would help drive long-term workforce planning and highlight crucial skills gaps in the state.

Jobs Queensland will be an organisation headed by an independent board of specialists. Members are likely to include employer and employee representatives, expert individuals, industry leaders and people with significant experience in market environments.

Ms D’Ath said Jobs Queensland’s focus is to ensure the state’s VET sector is the strongest in the country. She said its creation is an important part of the government’s pledge to create more jobs in Queensland, with a proposed start date scheduled for January 4 next year.

“It is important for industry to help target our government’s priorities [for] investment in VET to underpin effective skills development and sustainable economic growth in Queensland,” she explained.

“Industry led workforce planning is critical to raising productivity, stimulating innovation and achieving global competitiveness.”

According to Ms D’Ath, Jobs Queensland enables employers and businesses to open a dialogue with the government regarding important skills needs. She added that it offers the workforce, including apprentices and trainees, the opportunities required to encourage growth.

Payroll tax rebate boosts apprenticeships

The Jobs Queensland announcement followed government data that showed nearly 1,400 businesses in the state have claimed payroll tax rebates for hiring apprentices and trainees.

Treasurer Curtis Pitt said almost $1.3 million has been paid back to organisations through the initiative, which he said has enjoyed an “enthusiastic response”.

Mr Pitt stated: “This is a tremendous incentive for Queensland businesses to consider hiring apprentices and trainees and help develop a highly skilled workforce into the future.

“Under the scheme, employers who hire apprentices and trainees receive a payroll tax rebate of 25 per cent on their wages until June 2018, in addition to their wages being exempt from payroll tax.”

The scheme has been running for two months, and Mr Pitt said it is a key part of the government’s efforts to support organisations that wish to offer on-the-job training opportunities.

He noted that the swift adoption of the initiative indicated employers are becoming more confident about the economy in general and hiring in particular.

By Leanne Macnamara, Public Relations Coordinator

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