Press conference - Parliament House

Funding for an additional 100,000 apprenticeships and traineeships

MINISTER CASH:  Ladies and gentlemen, today the Morrison Government is announcing an investment of $1.2 billion to create an additional 100,000 new apprenticeships and traineeships across Australia. The Prime Minister has always said the importance of vocational education and training in Australia cannot be underestimated, and certainly, our economic recovery from COVID-19 will be a skills-led recovery. And that is why today we are announcing $1.2 billion in an investment in creating additional 100,000 new apprenticeships and traineeships.

As of tomorrow, Monday 5 October, businesses of any size, small, medium, large, across Australia in any industry, and in any geographic location. If they sign up and take on a new Australian apprentice or trainee, they are eligible for a 50 per cent wage subsidy on the wages paid to the apprentice or trainee up until 30 September next year. As I said, you cannot underestimate the importance of vocational education and training in Australia and that is why the Government is investing in this financial year, approximately $7 billion to date across the vocational education and training system in Australia.

The $1.2 billion announcement today builds on the $2.8 billion announcement that we’ve made already, in terms of supporting current apprentices and trainees in their jobs. The first people to go in an economic downturn are our apprentices and trainees. And that’s why the Government did announce the Supporting Apprentices and Trainees wage subsidy. That is currently ensuring that around 52,000 employers are able to keep on the job, in excess of 90,000 apprentices and trainees.

When we went to the election last year, we said that as a government we would reform vocational education and training in Australia and that is exactly what we are doing. We have established the National Skills Commission so that Australians have up-to-date labour market information on the skills that are currently in demand, but also in demand for the future. We have established the National Careers Institute so that all Australians, school leavers, mums and dads, they know the types of career options that are available, in particular for our young people. We have our supporting apprentices and trainees wage subsidy and again today the $1.2 billion. This is all about creating an additional 100,000 new apprenticeships and traineeships in Australia.

This is also so important as we see so many young people will soon leave school at the end of this year and into the labour market. And so for any of them who are thinking, ‘I’d like to undertake an apprenticeship or a traineeship’, what today’s announcement does is give businesses out there of any size, small, medium or large, the confidence to take on that additional Australian apprentice or trainee. So, my message to businesses out there, small, medium or large, is: as of tomorrow if you sign up a new Australian apprentice or trainee, you will be eligible for the 50 per cent wage subsidy through to 30 September next year. I’d really encourage people to get out there tomorrow and do just that.

JOURNALIST: With apprenticeships, Minister, there is a skew towards male employees. What will you do for those industries that are very female-dominated?

MICHAELIA CASH: Thanks Andrew. So, in terms of vocational education and training, it’s just under a 50-50 split across the board in terms of male and female. In terms of apprenticeships, in particular trade apprenticeships, what we’ve seen over the last decade, pleasingly, is an increase in the number of females going into the traditional trades. So, it’s gone to from about 16 per cent to just under 27 per cent in 2020. So that’s a very, very good thing. In particular you look at, say, the work that Master Builders Australia has done and we’ve funded, as you know, the getting more women into apprenticeships in the construction industry, which has been an incredibly successful measure. But remember this is not just about trades, this is about trades and non-trades across-the-board, so if you wanted to do ICT, hospitality, tourism, aged care, you know, the arts, graphic design, this is all about 100,000 new commencements, apprentices or trainees, businesses of any size, any geographic location, or any industry.

JOURNALIST: That said, it’s still going to be skewed towards male employees, isn’t it?

MICHAELIA CASH: Not necessarily, no. I mean, pleasingly in the last three months with the 458,000 jobs returning to the economy, we’ve seen the majority of them go, as you know, to both women and to youth. As I said, in the last decade, what you have seen is that increase from around 16 per cent to just under 27 per cent in the number of women going into those non-traditional roles.

So, I would say to any young girls out there who are finishing up school now, put your hand up. You know, call an Australian apprenticeship provider, ask about apprenticeships in the construction industry and the manufacturing industry, in the mining and resources industry. There are some fantastic opportunities in particular, with the $1.2 billion wage subsidy commencing tomorrow for 100,000 new commencements across Australia. This is a good thing for men and for women, but I would encourage young girls in particular, put your hand up, undertake an apprenticeship or traineeship.

JOURNALIST: If it’s such a good idea, will you expand it to other areas of the economy?

MICHAELIA CASH: This is across the economy. This is why we have been agnostic. It is businesses of any size, small, medium, large. It is in any industry across the economy. And it’s in any geographic location.

JOURNALIST: I was talking about the wage subsidy, the whole notion of that, would you expand it across the economy?

MICHAELIA CASH: Well, I think you can already see by the measures that the Government has put in place in terms of JobKeeper, that was an across-the-economy-wide wage subsidy. The Supporting Apprentices and Trainees, that was for any apprentice or trainee with an employer that was affected by COVID-19. It wasn’t limited to a particular industry or to a particular part of Australia. So certainly, I think the Government has actually shown that we are prepared to put in place measures that are economy-wide measures.

JOURNALIST: When you say Australian apprentices, is it open to people that might be here on protection visas or is it only for citizens?

MICHAELIA CASH: It is only for Australian apprentices, yes, which is the normal way you’d get an Australian apprenticeship, under the normal way you would qualify. Thank you very much.