Last month, Australian Engineers & Technical Tradies featured an opinion piece written by James Walsh, Director of Employment Consulting firm Martin Walsh Group, titled JobMaker needs to be SkillsMaker to recover from COVID-19.
Walsh expressed concerns that without suitably qualified talent readily available to fill the jobs made by the Government’s JobMaker package, we wouldn’t be in any better position than we are now, as we would still have to look offshore for the skills we required, and in essence, that is detrimental to the cause of developing our own sovereign industry.
Walsh stated (that) “If Government is so keen to establish sovereign Australian industry, then we need to ensure that we have this backed up with a proper training regime that includes a focus on training Australians to be the technical tradespeople and the engineers of the future. It is time the Australian Government stops playing partisan politics and starts working with all sides of the debate to get serious and come up with a real-time strategy to increase the number of locally trained and educated engineers and technical tradies!”. He then went on to say, “Perhaps the PM’s JobMaker framework should incorporate a SkillsMaker plan!”.
Maybe the Prime Minister read this opinion piece, as this morning he announced that his Government will invest $2 billion in a JobTrainer skills package to support technical training and upskilling, as well as subsidise apprentice wages. It may not be called “SkillsMaker”, but “JobTrainer” is a very welcomed initiative for the technical trades industries.
The JobTrainer skills package will also guarantee support for thousands of 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 job seekers access short and long courses to develop new skills in growth sectors and create a pathway to more qualifications.
Courses will be free or low cost in areas of identified need, with the Federal Government providing $500 million with matched contributions from state and territory governments.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the JobTrainer package was focused on getting people into jobs.
“JobTrainer will ensure more Australians have the chance to reskill or upskill to fill the jobs on the other side of this crisis,” the Prime Minister said.
“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.
“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 package also includes an additional $1.5 billion to expand the wage incentive to help keep apprentices in work. It builds on the initial $1.3 billion package announced in March.
JobTrainer will offer training support to all individuals looking to upskill into a new industry.
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.
The initiative covers 50 per cent of the wages paid to apprentices and trainees, up to $7,000 per quarter.
Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business Michaelia Cash said the JobTrainer package would form a vital part of the national recovery efforts.
“Our nation has faced many challenges, and it is critical that we keep our apprentices in jobs and help those looking for work,” Minister Cash 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.”
Minister Cash said the National Skills Commission would play a critical 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.”
Assistant Minister for Vocational Education, Training and Apprenticeships Steve Irons said the expanded waged 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,” Assistant Minister Irons said.
“This will dramatically improve the viability of tens of thousands of apprenticeships and the businesses employing them right across the country.”
States and territories need to sign up to a new Heads of Agreement to access JobTrainer funding, with the agreement setting out immediate reforms to improve the vocational education and training sector, and providing the foundation for long term improvements as outlined by the Prime Minister in his recent speech to the National Press Club.
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