The Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) has welcomed the Australian Government’s announcement of a $100 million Jobs Fund allocation, saying it is a “well targeted and timely measure which will boost apprenticeship commencements.”
Ai Group chief executive Heather Ridout said that the economic downturn has had a substantial impact on apprenticeship starts, and the new Fund should act as an incentive to boost the number of new workers entering industry.
“In some traditional trades in Queensland alone there have been decreases of up to 40 per cent in apprenticeship commencements. Around Australia trade apprenticeship commencements have decreased by between 10 and 20 per cent,” she said in a press notice.
“As night follows day, this will contribute to skills shortages down the track. Ai Group had been seeking action to place a ‘floor’ under the pressure on apprenticeship commencements. The Government needed to act and it has.”
According to Ridout, the increase to the employer incentives up to $7,350 will be a major boost to the confidence and capacity of employers to take on young people.
“This is a particularly timely action as we are entering the main recruitment period for school leavers to commence as apprentices in 2010,” she said.
“It is essential that we ensure the on-going supply of skilled tradespeople, particularly to support Australia’s major infrastructure investment, while simultaneously giving young people meaningful employment and opportunity.
“The additional funding allocated to the increased Commonwealth employer incentives will enable an additional 21,000 apprenticeship commencements which is in line with calls from Ai Group.
“The additional $20 million for pre-apprenticeship training will give 5,000 young people an opportunity to take part in training which will prepare them for an apprenticeship.
“Experience shows that young people who have done pre apprenticeship training have much higher apprenticeship completion rates than young people who don’t. So this significant funding boost will also help to build apprentice completion rates adding to the country’s skills base.”