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Govt offers cash grants for businesses who keep apprentices

An apprentices package which provides incentives to businesses to keep apprentices in employment is “well-targeted” and “very timely”, according to the Australian Industry Group (Ai Group).

The jobs and apprenticeships package was announced this week by the Deputy Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, offers employers and Group Training Organisations cash donations of $1,000 when apprentices in their employment successfully complete their training.

“The support for apprentices and training is well targeted at areas of need and areas where apprentices are at risk of not completing their training,” said Ai Group chief executive, Heather Ridout.

“Providing incentives to businesses and Group Training Organisations to keep apprentices in employment and to keep their training linked to work is absolutely the right thing to do.

“Even though employers are very reluctant to retrench apprentices the $1,000 payable on the successful completion of eligible apprentices or trainees will increase the likelihood of more of them being kept on.”

The package also offers a $1,800 wage subsidy to apprentices which will be valuable in supporting out-of-trade apprentices in their efforts to secure new employment, said Ridout.

“Importantly, the new measures are also rightly targeted at areas of skill shortages,” she said.

“The Federal Government’s package is a positive addition to action in this area from the states including the NSW Government’s decision to employ 4000 more apprentices and 2000 entry level positions for school leavers over the next four years.

“The big challenge will be not to come out of the current economic downturn with a big skill shortages gap to fill and the package of measures highlights the importance of supporting training and employment in this very difficult economic environment.”

The package comes off the back of research provided by Ai Group which suggested that business is forecasting reduced investment in training this year of between 7.5% in manufacturing to 12% in the construction and services industries.

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