The recent government announcement to extend the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements subsidy by injecting a further $1.2 billion is welcome news to builders and their peak body.
HIA chief executive – industry policy, Kristin Brookfield, said this response to HIA’s call to ensure the class of 2020 is not left behind in these difficult times, is most welcome.
“The first tranche of the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements wage subsidy program is fully subscribed, helping to create 100,000 apprenticeships in less than five months, this is a commendable outcome and should be recognised,” Ms Brookfield said.
“Updating the program to remove the cap and be demand driven and to expand the payments to cover a full 12 months for new apprentices and trainees signed up prior to 30 September 2021 will see these early benefits grow and jobs created.”
It is estimated this extension will support hundreds of thousands of small businesses across Australia take on new apprentices and trainees over the next six months.
Local small business owner and director of JM Homes Surf Coast, Jamie Mills, said that after a downturn in business in 2020, and a considerable increase in 2021, they have seen the need to employ a new apprentice to join their busy team.
“The incentives the government has introduced certainly help the decision to employ and help grow our workforce for the future growth,” Mr Mills said.
“We see 2021 being a bumper year and can’t see that changing in the foreseeable future. We will look to employ another apprentice in the next few months as our existing apprentices complete their training and become qualified carpenters.
“We need the continuation of apprentices to teach them our way of construction and to instil in them the quality that is required with our type of house construction.
“This incentive can only be a good thing for our industry, we have tried long and hard in the Geelong region through Master Builder Initiatives to encourage young people to take the trade path, this will definitely help the cause.”
Mr Mills said anyone interested in a carpentry apprenticeship with a local quality custom builder, should contact him.
Ms Brookfield said the $2.8 billion already provided for this wage subsidy has made a significant difference for the housing industry and supported many new apprentices since October to start their study and training.
“In under five months, the target of 100,000 new starters has been realised,” she said.
“Taken together with the support for existing apprentices and trainees already in a job before COVID-19, this means over 222,000 apprentices and trainees are being supported by the wage subsidy programs.
“This will keep a pipeline of skilled workers in place as the housing industry navigates its way through the economic recovery.
“As JobKeeper and other business supports reach an end in March there is a risk to keeping existing trainees and apprentices in a job.
“Ensuring apprentices who were in training before COVID-19 also continue to be supported throughout 2021 is also critical.
“The extension of this vital assistance will mean not only are apprentices kept in the jobs they have today but that new apprentices can find work, businesses can continue to build and Australia can maintain a healthy level of skilled tradespeople into the future.”