Government’s apprentice support initiative provides a much-needed lift for small business

The National Apprentice Employment Network (NAEN) has today welcomed the federal government’s decision to introduce strong measures to assist small businesses to retain apprentices in the face of unsettling economic conditions.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced an apprentice wage subsidy payment that will assist small businesses to keep their existing apprentices and trainees in work.

The Chief Executive Officer of NAEN Dianne Dayhew said the apprentice support payments will provide a much-needed injection of funding for small business employers to help retain their apprentices that might otherwise become unemployed.

“The government is to be commended for this support. It is important to recognise the investment that goes into hiring and developing apprentices, and it’s equally important to ensure that investment is not lost,” Ms Dayhew said.

The initiative will assist some 120,000 apprentices and trainees to remain in their jobs through a subsidy paid to the employer, equal to 50 per cent of the apprentice or trainee’s wage and worth up to $7000 per quarter.

The measure, worth about $1.3 billion will apply to existing apprentices and trainees employed by businesses with fewer than 20 employees, backdated to 1 January and extending to 30 September 2020.

“The start of 2020 has been a difficult time for many small businesses impacted by drought, bushfires and now coronavirus, so the latest stimulus measures are a very welcome step in helping them stay afloat.”

Group training organisations (GTOs) employ some 30,000 apprentices and trainees across Australia and the feedback from individual GTOs is that the start of 2020 has been relatively flat for apprentice commencements.

Most small businesses with apprentices understand that conditions will bounce back, but there could be a difficult few months ahead and, without assistance, apprentices could well be displaced.