2018 Federal Budget

What does the 2018 federal budget mean for Australian Apprenticeships?

The 2018 Federal Budget has arrived, and it includes major announcements that impact on the economy and sustainability of many industries.

Among these announcements are a tax relief designed to encourage and reward working Australians and record funding for hospitals and schools. These announcements, among others, will have a considerable and lasting affect on Australian Apprenticeships and Traineeships.

Senator Simon Birmingham and Assistant Minister Karen Andrews have published a media release that addresses how the budget will affect the education and training sector as a whole. You can access this media release here: Guaranteeing essential services – reform and investment for better education opportunities

The most important and relevant announcements about Australian Apprenticeships include changes to the Skilling Australians Fund; a strict focus on career opportunities; and an emphasis on infrastructure and transport that could lead to upwards of 50,000 new jobs.

Skilling Australians Fund

In 2017, the Skilling Australians Fund replaced the National Partnership on Skills Reform as the federal government’s lead effort to boost Australian employment and reduce skilled migration, in particular 457 visas. The fund was originally announced as being worth an estimated $1.5 billion over four years.

The most notable change to the skilling Australians Fund is an extended time frame. While the fund was originally worth $1.5 billion over four years, it has been extended an additional year. Extending the program from four to five years will allow more time to deliver on projects that address the need for apprentices in growth industries and in-demand occupations.

The fund’s total value remains at an estimated $1.5 billion over the five-year period. A partnership between federal and state governments will see an estimated $1.2 billion to support states and territories in tackling the decline of apprenticeships. In 2017/18, the federal government has made available an estimated $300 million to support states and territories that are already connecting industry to the VET sector.

“Continued industry engagement in the VET sector and these projects will support ongoing employment outcomes for apprentices and trainees.” – (Media Release; Dept of Jobs & Small Business, 2018)

The proposed outcome of the Skilling Australians Fund is greater opportunity for apprentices and trainees to secure employment. To reach this outcome, the government has committed funding to assist in projects that closely tie the VET sector with industry insiders, and will encourage participation from apprentices and trainees.

Career Opportunities for all Australians

Included in the 2018 budget was an emphasis on improving career opportunities for all Australians. This emphasis has led to changes to existing initiatives, as well as some new projects, to make getting a job easier for Australians of all ages and backgrounds. Many of these changes will have an effect on employers, as well as apprentices or job seekers.

“The Skills and Training Incentive will assist older Australians build skills in the later stages of their careers, helping mature age workers remain in the workforce for longer.” – (Media Release; Dept of Jobs & Small Business, 2018)

Starting from January 1 2019, there will be considerable incentives for eligible mature age workers to undertake training, update their skills and stay in the workforce. The Skills and Training incentive will commit $19.3 million to encourage mature aged workers to complete further training and education. Eligible mature aged workers may attract up to a $2000 incentive to undertake suitable training (accredited or non-accredited). To be eligible, workers must have completed a Skills Checkpoint assessment through the Department of Education and Training’s Skills Checkpoint for Older Workers Program.

One of the most relevant initiatives to apprenticeships is the Transition to Work plan, that provides support for young people aged 15-21 as they transition from school to employment. The service will provide intensive, pre-employment support to improve the work-readiness of young people and help them into work, apprenticeships, traineeships or education. Transition to Work is a service dedicated to helping Australians aged 15-21 deliver on the following actions:

  • Develop practical skills to get a job
  • Connect with education or training
  • Find and complete work experience placements
  • Find job opportunities in the local area
  • Connect with relevant local community services

From July 1 2018, Transition to Work will move from a capped funding model, to a more flexible funding arrangement that will better allow the service to meet the needs of young Australians.

This added support from the federal government will assist in promoting the many career pathways made possible by apprenticeships and traineeships. By exposing young people to more practical skills, connections with training providers and job opportunities the Transition to Work plan has the potential to greatly improve the current trajectory of Australian apprenticeships and the VET sector as a whole.

Regional Infrastructure and Transport making way for new jobs

Another major outcome of the 2018 budget is an increased focus on regional infrastructure, including a revamped transport system which will better connect different regions. This focus on infrastructure is backed by an estimated $75 billion worth of funding from the federal government. This level of commitment will no doubt contribute to an increase in trade-based employment opportunities.

This funding is a show of dedication to the decade-long infrastructure pipeline that will bolster employment, increase economic growth and create a surge in productivity. Over the next ten years, it is estimated that this level of investment in infrastructure will be responsible upwards of 50,000 new jobs.

Included in this pipeline is a $5 billion commitment in the Melbourne Airport rail link, and a $1.1 billion commitment into Perth’s ambitious new public transport system Metronet.

A further $200 million has been committed to the Building Better Regions Fund, which is dedicated to driving economic growth, improving career opportunities and building stronger regional communities throughout Australia. The Building Better Regions Fund has a total value of $481.6 million at last estimation, and will create approximately 26,000 jobs in regional areas, a vast majority of which will be trade based.

The commitment to infrastructure outlined in this budget makes way for a variety of opportunities for apprentices and trainees to acquire gainful employment. The prospect of over 50,000 new jobs in regional and metropolitan areas has potential to strengthen the VET sector and boost apprenticeship numbers.

To learn more about the proposed changes that will take effect as a result of the 2018 budget, click here:

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