Rural and regional Queensland businesses to benefit from new apprenticeship pilot
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) has welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement of a new apprenticeship pilot in rural and regional Australia.
Small and Family Business Minister Michaelia Cash announced today a wage subsidy trial of $60 million for employers in regional and rural communities to hire new full-time apprentices in areas of skills needs, particularly in the trades.
From January 1, employers in regional centres will be able to access government subsidies covering 75 per cent of an apprentice’s award wage in the first year, 50 per cent in the second year, and 25 per cent in the third year.
CCIQ’s Senior Policy Advisor, Catherine Liddell, said the announcement will boost confidence in skills attainment following the Queensland Government’s failure to sign on to the National Partnership Agreement, which would have pumped millions into supporting apprentices and trainees.
“Apprenticeships will be key in tackling the nation’s looming skills crisis, and initiatives such as this highlights the importance of apprenticeships and helps to raise the prestige of skills and training,” Ms Liddell said.
“Apprentices are the skilled workers of the future and we cannot afford to sit around and wait for the future to come to us”.
Ms Liddell believes the initiative addresses two of the biggest concerns for Queensland’s regional employers – youth unemployment and increasing employee wages.
“You’d have to be living under a rock to not know that Queensland’s regional areas have been suffering from some of the highest youth unemployment rates in Australia.
“We are hopeful this pilot will create opportunities for young Queenslanders to find meaningful employment and begin their careers.
“The announcement will greatly assist businesses in opening up these opportunities because the growing wages for apprenticeships and cut to incentives have long been the reason for businesses closing the door on apprenticeships.”
As much as businesses will welcome the news of the new pilot, Ms Liddell believes the State Government’s failure to sign onto the National Partnership Agreement (under the Skilling Australians Fund) will see Queensland disadvantaged nationally.
“The Skilling Australians Fund is the key vehicle to supporting apprenticeship growth, whether we like it or not. We continue to urge the State Government to work cooperatively with the Federal Government on that matter, and more broadly in strengthening our Vocational Education and Training (VET) system.
“No longer should there be a divide between VET and universities, in fact there must be closer links between the two. They should be seen as intertwined – two parts of the same system and both equally well supported.
There are huge benefits in undertaking apprenticeships. We must ensure everyone has the chance to learn the skills they need and climb the ladder of opportunity.
“We are calling for all Queensland employers to consider introducing or increasing apprenticeships and traineeships to their business – now may just be the perfect time to do so.”