Federal Election Watch: Liberals promise doubling apprenticeship wage subsidy trial

Last week, the Liberals announced that “more regional apprentices and small businesses would benefit from wage subsidy trial” (announcement below).

In attempt to add some energy to the debate, The Australian has called it a “tradie war”. The Sydney Morning Herald  and The Age connected the announcement to other political parties, reporting:

“One Nation has claimed credit for the original trial because of its similarity to an apprenticeships proposal agreed to in a deal over the government's company tax cuts. While the minor party later reneged on the deal, ensuring the defeat of the tax cuts for large companies, Pauline Hanson has called the wage subsidy program ‘One Nation inspired’.

“Labor senator Doug Cameron has criticised the program as an expensive and ‘ill-conceived Band-Aid’, arguing it won't address the significant drop in apprentice numbers over recent years.”

Senator Cameron has also accused the Prime Minister of planning to cut TAFE to pay for other election promises.

Extracts from the announcement:

“The Morrison Government will invest a further $60 million to lower the cost of doing business for small businesses and help ensure around 3,200 young Australians in rural and regional areas have the opportunity to secure an apprenticeship by expanding the successful Australian Apprentice Wage Subsidy Trial by doubling its size.

“The trial wage subsidy program began earlier this year to support eligible new Australian apprentices located in regional areas facing skill shortages. The trial has enabled businesses in rural and regional areas to take on around 1,600 more apprentice plumbers, mechanics, electricians, painters and hairdressers than they would otherwise have been able to do. Within weeks of the trial commencing, applications from employers had already exceeded the available spaces.

“A re-elected Morrison Government would double the program’s size, allowing more regional businesses to be able to afford to take on a new apprentice, giving those young Australians the opportunity to train for a rewarding career in the regions.

“Under the subsidy, eligible employers are able to receive payments based on the apprentice’s relevant award wage rates. Subsidies are provided at 75 per cent of the apprentice’s award wage in the first year, followed with 50 per cent in the second year and 25 per cent in the third year. The wage subsidy complements other incentives currently available and support the engagement of eligible new full-time apprentices at the Certificate III and IV levels in occupations on the National Skills Needs List in regional and rural communities.

“The program is already benefiting over 450 apprentices in NSW, over 330 in Victoria, over 400 in Queensland, over 100 in South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania and around 50 apprentices in the Northern Territory.

“Today’s announcement builds on the $525 million Delivering Skills for Today and Tomorrow package that was announced in the Budget. That package will create up to 80,000 new apprenticeships in areas of skills shortages, support school-leavers and job-seekers by establishing 10 industry training hubs in areas with high youth employment and provide a comprehensive roadmap to strengthen the vocational education and training sector.

“The Coalition understands that learning through a vocational education is just as valuable as a university degree. Continued investments in skills will help fulfil the Morrison Government’s pledge to create 1.25 million jobs over the next five years, including 250,000 new jobs for young Australians.”

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