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By Kylie Scott
January 21, 2019
From WestConnex to the Parramatta Light Rail project, and Nowra Bridge to new residential builds, Australia is in a constant state of construction. To keep up with demand, we need to build a strong assembly of skilled tradies. Could more apprenticeships be the answer?
The federal government has shown its support for the growth of apprenticeships in Australia and is now encouraging employers in regional and rural communities to engage apprentices through a $60 million trial wage subsidy. Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Program (AAIP) commenced this month.
Through the AAIP, we will see subsidies paid, in the first three years of an apprenticeship, which equate to 75 per cent of the first year award wage, followed by 50 per cent in the second year and 25 per cent in the third year.
It's expected that the trial will see up to 1,630 new Australian apprentices.
Approximately 3.3 million Australian small businesses contribute an estimated $395 billion annually to the economy. This incentive scheme is about securing the skills regional and rural businesses need to remain competitive.
Age is no Barrier
When you think of an apprentice, most people picture a young school leaver. In fact, however, an apprentice can be any age, as long as they are at least 14 years and 9 months. Apprentices can be school-based, school leavers, adults changing careers, or even mature-aged people re-entering the workforce.
Those re-entering the workforce or making a career change can bring a wide range of experience and life skills to the table. You will also find some additional incentives offered by the Government for mature-aged apprentices.
Why Employ an Apprentice?
Apprentices can grow with your business. Once they have completed the requirements of their apprenticeship, they are qualified, skilled and experienced employees who can contribute to the continuous improvement of your business.
Apprenticeships are also a valuable way of contributing to the future development of a skilled workforce at an affordable rate.
The Australian Apprenticeship Support Network providers are contracted by the Australian Government to provide free Australian Apprenticeship support services to employers. The Government is investing up to $190 million annually in the Apprenticeship Network to enable easier recruitment, training, and retention of apprentices.
There are government incentives of up to $20,500 to support employers with the costs of hiring and training an eligible apprentice. The incentives cover a number of circumstances and vary according to things such as skill level, qualification, location, skills shortage occupations, and age. Types of incentives include:
Restart Wage Subsidy (available through jobactive) $10,000
Completion incentive $2,500
Rural and Regional Skills Shortage incentive $1,000
Support for Adult Australian Apprentices incentive $4,000
Mature Aged Worker commencement incentive $750
Some government incentives are designed to encourage the employment of disadvantaged groups. These may include long-term unemployed, people with disabilities, Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders, and retrenched workers.
There may also be additional incentives for the apprentice, such as the living away from home allowance and trade support loans. For a full list of incentives click here.
Apprenticeships are a popular choice for the construction industry, but they aren't the solution for every business. This approach requires commitment from an employer to induct, train, and supervise the new apprentice. As an employer, you will be required to provide the practical experience by adapting the learning to your own workplace practices.
Therefore, employers should consider whether they have the resources, time and energy to put into managing this approach to skills development. It isn’t to say you’ll have to do everything by yourself. Often, your apprentice will receive external support to complete their training, taking away some of the pressure on the employer and making an apprenticeship a cost-effective option. Apprenticeship qualifications can often be completed at your place of work with the training provider coming to you.
There is also an option for employers to be involved without directly employing the apprentice by accessing the services of a Group Training Organisation (GTO). In these cases, employers 'host' an apprentice for a period of time while the GTO is the employer and takes care of the paperwork. Find a GTO in your local area here.
A new perspective
Taking on an apprentice or trainee can bring ‘new life’ into the workplace through a fresh perspective and innovative ideas. It's also the perfect opportunity for long-term staff members to pass on their knowledge and skills, ensuring valuable 'tricks of the trade' are shared with future generations.
Australian Apprenticeship Incentives Program
NSW Offers Free Apprenticeships to Address Skills Shortage
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