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Government unveils skills stimulus package

by Malavika Santhebennur11 minute read
Government unveils skills stimulus package

The government has launched a skills package that includes funding for retraining and upskilling the Australian workforce and supporting apprentices.

The Morrison government has introduced the JobTrainer skills package, which will invest $2 billion to retrain and upskill hundreds of thousands of people into sectors with job opportunities, as the economy recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.

The package will also guarantee support for apprentices in jobs across the country by subsidising their wages to keep them employed and their training secured.

The new $1 billion JobTrainer program will provide up to an additional 340,700 training places to help school leavers and jobseekers access short and long courses to develop new skills in growth sectors, and provide opportunities to gain more qualifications.


Courses will be free or low cost in areas of identified need, with the government providing $500 million, while the state and territory governments will provide matched contributions.

The package also includes an additional $1.5 billion to expand the wage incentive to help keep apprentices in work, and builds on the initial $1.3 billion package announced in March.

In addition to small businesses already covered, the wage subsidy will now be available to medium businesses with less than 200 employees for apprentices employed as at 1 July 2020.

Around 180,000 apprentices and 90,000 small and medium businesses that employ them will now be supported, with the program extended by six months to March 2021.

Steve Irons, Assistant Minister for Vocational Education, Training and Apprenticeships, said the expanded wage subsidy would more than double the number of supported apprentices and trainees.

“The Supporting Apprentices and Trainees wage subsidy will now help almost 90,000 businesses employing around 180,000 apprentices and trainees throughout Australia,” he said.

“This will dramatically improve the viability of tens of thousands of apprenticeships and the businesses employing them right across the country.”

The Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, Michaelia Cash, said the JobTrainer package would play a vital role in the national economic recover efforts from COVID-19.

“Our nation has faced many challenges, and it is critical that we keep our apprentices in jobs and help those looking for work,” she said.

“This package will be essential as the economy rebuilds so that people looking for work can reskill and upskill for in-demand jobs, provide school leavers with a pathway into their careers, and ensure businesses are able to get the skilled workers they need.”

Ms Cash said the National Skills Commission would play a crucial role in identifying current and future skills needed in a challenging and changing labour market.

“We will work with states and territories to develop a list of qualifications and skill sets that will provide job seekers with the skills that are in demand by employers and are critical to the economic recovery.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the JobTrainer package would ensure Australians have the opportunity to reskill or upskill to fill the jobs in a post-COVID-19 economy.

“COVID-19 is unprecedented, but I want Australians to be ready for the sorts of jobs that will come as we build back and recover,” he said.

“The jobs and skills we’ll need as we come out of the crisis are not likely to be the same as those that were lost.”

The government recently announced a $250-million JobMaker stimulus package, aimed at reinvigorating the creative economy, which was battered by the lockdown measures introduced in March to curtail the spread of COVID-19.

[Related: Business Securitisation Fund seeks investment proposals]

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Malavika Santhebennur


Malavika Santhebennur is a content specialist at Momentum Media, focusing on mortgages and finance writing.

Before joining Momentum Media in 2019, Malavika held roles with Money Management and Benchmark Media, where she was writing about financial services.