A federal government trial that will pay up to 75 per cent of an apprentice’s wages is “wonderful news” and “a real opportunity for small businesses”.
That’s the view of Tamworth Business Chamber president Jye Segboer, who had been advocating for such a scheme to help the local area through the drought.
“When the drought summit was on, this was an idea put forward on our behalf by the deputy mayor, and it’s wonderful to see it come to fruition today,” he said.
The $60 million scheme, to start on January 1, was announced this afternoon by Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and Minister for Small and Family Business, Skills and Vocational Education, Michaelia Cash.
Senator Cash said eligible employers in regional and rural communities would receive payments based on the apprentice’s award wage rates.
“Subsidies will be 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,” she said.
The wage subsidy complements the Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Program, which already provides one-off payments to eligible employers, apprentices and registered training organisations.
It will support new apprentices in areas such as plumbing, mechanical, electrical, painting trades and hairdressing.
Mr Segboer told the Leader last week many small businesses were “suffering” in the drought and it was a “real concern” at a time of year when many were looking at putting on apprentices.
Today, he said the news was even better than he’d hoped: “We were going for 50 per cent, so 75 per cent for the first year is fantastic … It’s wonderful for small businesses and really shows the strength of the government’s commitment to regional Australia.”
NSW Business Chamber regional president Joe Townsend said that, due to the housing boom in Tamworth, tradespeople such as electricians and plumbers would especially benefit there.
In Gunnedah, he thought it would those in the mechanical and electrical trades, servicing the mining industry.
It’s understood some of the eligibility criteria will be that the apprentice is new, full-time and at the certificate III or IV level; and that the occupation is on the National Skills Needs List.
Mr McCormack said the incentive would be a much-needed boost for regional and rural Australia.
“It’s an incentive that I’m confident will encourage businesses and employers to engage a new apprentice and turbo-charge someone’s future career.”
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