The Morrison Government will invest $2 billion to help hundreds of thousands of Australians learn new skills and retrain into sectors with more job opportunities, in an announcement welcomed by Federal Member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien.
The new JobTrainer skills package will also guarantee support for tens of thousands of apprentices across Australia, including Wide Bay, by subsidising their wages to keep their employment and training secured.
The new $1 billion JobTrainer Fund will provide up to 340,700 additional training places to help school leavers and job seekers access pre-apprenticeships, short courses and full qualifications, to develop new skills in growth sectors and create a pathway to more qualifications.
Mr O'Brien said the courses will be free or low cost in sectors of identified need, with the Federal Government providing $500 million with matched contributions from State and Territory Governments.
"This will provide a much-needed boost to jobseekers and school leavers in Wide Bay, and helps ensure local people are trained in the skills that our local businesses can use," Mr O'Brien said.
"The Morrison Government is backing training, apprentices, and jobs as part of our plan to restore our economy after the coronavirus pandemic and keep Australians in jobs."
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the JobTrainer skills package was focused on getting people into jobs.
"JobTrainer will ensure more Australians have the chance to reskill or upskill to fill the jobs on the other side of this crisis," the Prime Minister said.
"COVID-19 is unprecedented but I want Australians to be ready for the sorts of jobs that will come as we build back and recover.
The package also includes an additional $1.5 billion to expand the wage incentive to help keep apprentices in work. It builds on the initial $1.3 billion package announced in March.
In addition to small businesses already covered, the wage subsidy will now be available to medium businesses with less than 200 employees for apprentices employed as at 1 July 2020. Around 180,000 apprentices and 90,000 small and medium businesses that employ them will now be supported, with the program extended by six months to March 2021.
The initiative covers 50 per cent of the wages paid to apprentices and trainees, up to $7,000 per quarter. The expanded waged subsidy will more than double the number of supported apprentices and trainees.
"This means the Supporting Apprentices and Trainees wage subsidy will now help almost 90,000 businesses employing around 180,000 apprentices and trainees nationally, and it dramatically improves the viability of completing their traineeships," Mr O'Brien said.
States and territories need to sign up to a new Heads of Agreement to access JobTrainer funding, with the agreement setting out immediate reforms to improve the vocational education and training sector, and providing the foundation for long term improvements as outlined by the Prime Minister in his recent speech to the National Press Club.