Rewards push to give apprentices the tools to stay on

Industry groups hope a review into a federal apprenticeships will lead to better financial incentives for trainees to stay on the job long term.

Skills Minister Brendan O’Connor on Monday outlined a review of the Australian apprenticeships incentive program, which would examine how the program could better be used amid growing skill shortages.

Under the scheme, employers in priority sectors receive financial subsidies to take on apprentices for each year of training.

Direct payments are also made to apprentices to help with living expenses as a way of getting them to stay in the job.

Chief executive of the National Apprentice Employment Network Dianne Dayhew said she hoped the review would lead to long-awaited improvements in the sector.

She said the review should examine whether additional incentives were needed to ensure new apprentices stay in their chosen field of study.

“We know that the completion rate of apprentices and trainees is not satisfactory and that many are feeling the added burden of cost of living pressures,” she said.

“We expected that the review will shine a light on ways that we can sustain and grow the numbers of people taking on apprenticeships so that this highly valued work-based approach to training can thrive.”

The ACTU’s assistant secretary Liam O’Brien said the review would ensure apprentices were trained properly.

“The review is an important step in ensuring Australia has world-class training that pays apprentices and trainees properly and treats them with dignity,” he said.

Mr O’Connor said the review would look at cost of living pressures on apprentices and trainees.

“Getting the best outcomes for apprentices and trainees is vital to ensuring we have the skills our economy needs,” he said.

“We know that almost half of all apprentices don’t complete their training.

“Addressing the completion rate is not just vitally important for individuals and employers, but also for the Australian economy.”

Electrical Trades Union of Australia national secretary Michael Wright said the review was an “enormous opportunity” to build the workforce for the decades to come.

“We need a robust, well resourced, industry-led training effort and it needs to start immediately,” he said.

“Apprentices need to be supported at every step of their time, we can’t afford for anyone to be slipping through the cracks.”

The review will be headed up by former Fair Work Commission president and Federal Court judge Iain Ross, along with University of Canberra chancellor and former education department secretary Lisa Paul.

There will also be a focus on how more under-represented cohorts could take up apprenticeships such as women, Indigenous people, those with a disability or people living in regional areas.

Submissions will be open until May 15, with consultations to be carried out online and in person in coming weeks.


Andrew Brown
(Australian Associated Press)

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