Apprentice subsidy extension a win for business
The state’s peak business organisation, Business NSW, and the Hunter Business Chamber have welcomed the Federal Government’s extension of the wage subsidy for existing apprentices and trainees and the new JobTrainer work preparation program, but say more needs to be done to encourage employers to take on new apprentices.
“The extension of the Supporting Apprentices and Trainees wage subsidy until March 31 is in line with strong recommendations we made in our Skilling Australia for a better future: Supporting apprenticeships through COVID-19 report released last week,” Business NSW CEO Stephen Cartwright said.
“Businesses will be heartened by the ongoing support for apprentices beyond 30 September, which was looming large as an economic cliff,” Mr Cartwright said.
Hunter Business Chamber CEO Bob Hawes said he was pleased to see the wage subsidy had been extended from its original focus on small businesses to include those with up to 200 employees, which would be a welcome boost for a range of businesses in the Hunter Region.
However, he said there remained a strong need for additional support for employers wanting to take on new apprentices.
“The Skilling Australia report forecast a drop of more than 2,000 new apprentice and trainee commencements across the Hunter and Central Coast this year,” Mr Hawes said.
“In 2019, there were 7,019 commencements and to date this year we are tracking at about half that number, but with the traditional high-intake period of January to March already behind us, our analysis points to a likely drop of more than a third in the number of new starters locally in 2020.
“This is a worrying trend in a region with high youth unemployment and skills shortages that were evident even before COVID-19 hit.
“Without more support for employers to take on new apprentices and trainees, we can expect a significantly reduced intake in early 2021, leading to fewer employment opportunities for young people and a further erosion of our skills base, now and into the future.”
Mr Hawes said Business NSW and the Chamber remained hopeful there would be further announcements to support employers to take on new starters, and that the JobTrainer package would be supported by the states as anticipated by the Federal Government.