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Federal Budget impacts apprentices and skills

A program that provides financial assistance to apprentices over the course of their training has been abolished in tonight’s Federal Budget.

The Tools For Your Trade program provided a series of cash payments over the course of an apprenticeship totalling up to $5500 to assist with the cost of training and the purchase of tools. It will cease from 1 July.

“Employee incentives have been around for about 15 years, designed to address the low wages of apprentices. While these incentive payments have often been criticised for their impact on apprentice completion rates, the fact is they have played a part in addressing financial disadvantage and helping many young people to remain in their apprenticeships,” Mr Barron said.

“Last year’s Fair Work Commission decision to increase apprentice wages helped apprentices, however we need to remember that the increase was borne by employers.

“Employers, particularly micro, small and medium-sized businesses, are already being stretched, and there is a limit to this,” he said.

The government plans to introduce the Trade Support Loans program which will enable apprentices to take out a loan to fund the purchase of tools and other elements of their training. As an incentive to complete, apprentices will get a 20% discount off their loan.

The government has also abolished the Australian Apprenticeships Access Program which targets vulnerable job seekers who experience barriers to entering skilled employment, with nationally recognised pre-vocational training, support and assistance. 

Since its inception in 1995, this program has assisted tens of thousands of Australians, the great bulk of whom are disadvantaged jobseekers. GTA believes it has been highly successful, delivering value-for-money for governments, taxpayers, jobseekers and communities.

A total of ten skills and training programs are to be abolished in the Budget. In their place will be a new Industry Skills Fund, targeting health and biomedical products; mining, oil and gas equipment technology and services; and advanced manufacturing, including defence and aerospace.

“We remain hopeful that the guidelines for this new fund, when developed, will enable it to help small and medium sized businesses who are working in the traditional trades,” Mr Barron said.

A critically important program for all group training organisations, the Joint Group Training Program, did not feature in the Budget as it is currently being reviewed.

GTA will be working hard to ensure that this program, which facilitates the training of thousands of young people, will remain and be strengthened as part of Industry Minister Macfarlane’s deliberations.

Media Contact: Bob Bowden, Foresight Communications, 02 9241 2811, 0412 753 298,    

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