Australian Government announces new JobTrainer program

The Australian Government has announced a new JobTrainer program to re-train and upskill workers into sectors with job opportunities, as the economy recovers from COVID-19. The program will emphasise the country’s most vulnerable workers, particularly young people and job-seekers.

The Government has committed $2 billion to give hundreds of thousands of Australians access to new skills. JobTrainer – the fourth part of a “Job” package that includes JobSeeker, JobKeeper and Job-ready – includes two components:

  • The $1 billion JobTrainer program, to provide up to 340,700 additional training places to help school leavers and job seekers access short and long courses to develop new skills in growth sectors and create a pathway to more qualifications. (See below for the state by state breakdown.)
  • An additional $1.5 billion to expand the wage incentive to help keep apprentices and trainees in work, which builds on the initial $1.3 billion package announced in March.

The JobTrainer courses will be free or low cost in areas of identified need, with the Government providing $500 million and a planned $500 million of matched contributions from state and territory governments. CCA understands that to date all states and territories have signed up for the new program, except for Victoria and Western Australia.

In addition to small businesses already covered by the apprenticeship wages subsidy, the funding will now be available to medium businesses with less than 200 employees for apprentices employed as of 1 July 2020. The Government estimates that 180,000 apprentices and 90,000 small and medium businesses that employ them will be supported, with the program extended by six months to March 2021.

CCA has welcomed the Commonwealth’s commitment of an additional $2 billion to Australia’s vocational education and training (VET) sector: “Initiatives such as these raise opportunities for meaningful work and help to power a resilient, skilled economy. This is a powerful statement of support for Australia’s skilling, and comes at a crucial time to instil confidence in the sector’s providers,” said Dr Don Perlgut, CEO of Community Colleges Australia (CCA).

“As the Mitchell Institute has outlined, Australian training is at its lowest level, in real terms, since 2008. The Commonwealth’s new initiative will boost the levels substantially, and has the potential to provide the once-in-a-generation ‘turn-around’ that Australian training desperately needs,” said Dr Perlgut.

“There are two ‘knee-jerk’ reactions to this plan that must be avoided: the ‘let’s just give 150,000 more places to TAFE’ – advocated yesterday by Michelle O’Neill on Insiders – is  equally as inappropriate at encouraging even more private for-profit participation in government-funded VET,” said Dr Perlgut.

“We must avoid a repeat of “the folly of cheap, low-quality training’, which allowed for-profit training companies, operating on profit margins greater than 30 per cent, access to public funding that exploited vulnerable Australians,” said Dr Perlgut.

“CCA understands that language, literacy, numeracy and digital literacy skills – also known as LLND – are well within the scope of the new funding. That is essential. Australia’s adult and community education providers consistently over-perform in reaching the most vulnerable students and in lifting them from unemployment to employment,” said Dr Perlgut.

“CCA looks forward to working with the Commonwealth Government to assist in the design and delivery of programs that support JobTrainer, to ensure that Australia’s community education sector plays its part in making the program a success,” said Dr Perlgut.

Allocation of JobTrainer Training Places

The planned new training places will be split across the country, with the bigger states receiving more places. According to news reports, the 340,700 training places will be allocated at around $2,900 each : 108,600 to New South Wales, 88,900 to Victoria, 68,500 to Queensland, 35,200 to Western Australia, 23,500 to South Australia, 7,100 to Tasmania, 5,700 to the ACT and 3,200 to the Northern Territory.

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