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2021 Federal Budget: Australian Apprenticeships Initiatives Quick Guide

The 2021-22 Federal Budget was released last night by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg. While this budget has few surprises for Australian Apprenticeships, there are some items of interest for the sector.

Below are some quick resource links for anyone looking to understand the budget, and what this means for the Australian Apprenticeships sector:

Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements (BAC)

A key announcement from last year’s budget, the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements (BAC) wage subsidy, was extended earlier this year. The budget papers for Education, Skills and Employment include information on that extension.

An additional extension to 31 March 2022 has now been announced, with eligible employers able to receive the subsidy for 12 months from commencement. The extension is designed to assist school leavers and other job hunters during the peak hiring time in the first quarter of each year.

Gateway and in-training support services

The Government has announced an additional 5000 gateway service places, and in-training support services that are designed to attract and support more women into non-traditional trade roles. These will be run through the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network providers who already run gateway and in-training support.

Incentives for Australian Apprentices Program

The long-awaited Incentives for Australian Apprentices Program will be delayed another three months to 1 October 2021, with the current Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Program (AAIP) removed at that time. The Additional Identified Skills Shortage payments are extended along with the AAIP to 30 September 2021 to help ensure a seamless transition to the new system.

National Digital Australian Apprenticeships Portal

A new digital portal will be developed to assist employers and their apprentices to understand and manage their entitlements. This four-year project will start in the 2021-22 financial year, so will not be ready for the updated incentives program release.

JobTrainer

The JobTrainer fund will be extended for a further two years, depending on individual agreements with the states and territories who will have to contribute half the funding. This will deliver an anticipated 163,000 places in skills needs areas, including in aged care and digital skills courses. Eligibility will be expanded to allow for participation by groups affected by COVID-19. As part of this funding, a campaign will be run to promote and encourage take-up of places.

Skills reform

The Federal Government is working to negotiate a new National Skills Agreement with the state and territory governments. These reforms are designed to support the Australian training system for industry, employers, and students.

A key area of skills reform is the establishment of numerous Skills Enterprises over the next four years. These Skills Enterprises will collaborate with industry to ensure the VET system is responsive to the needs of industry and employers. These 15 organisations will likely be developed out of the learnings from the Skills Organisation pilots, which are due to end within the 2022-23 financial year.

A redesigned National Training Register will support governments in their work to reform qualifications design, which will enhance information about training packages and improve information about work placements and assessments.

A new VET National Data Asset will leverage capability from the Australia Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to measure VET outcomes at a  provider and course level. Data on outcomes is currently collected through surveys, with the Multi-Agency Data Integration Project allowing for more sophisticated analysis of outcomes data that will support data driven decision making across the sector.

Career information and support

The 1800 CAREER Information Service will be extended until 30 June 2023, supporting young people aged 15 to 24 years with their career information needs.

Up to 26 physical and virtual Jobs Fairs will be delivered between June 2021 and June 2022 across the country. These fairs are designed to connect job seekers with employers and training providers. They’ll also be instrumental in providing careers support and education to job hunters.

An additional round of the National Careers Institute Partnership Grants will focus on projects that support career opportunities and pathways for women.

Digital workforce

The budget’s focus on the promotion of digital skills will support development of both digital literacy and technical skills. This includes 20 additional Foundation Skills for Your Future Program projects, which will support foundation level language, literacy, numeracy, and digital skills development for employed and recently unemployed participants.

Additional funding for digital skills as part of the Skills for Education and Employment (SEE) program will help eligible job seekers with their foundation level digital skills. Places will be uncapped, with eligibility expanded to all registered job seekers.

A Digital Skills Cadetships pilot will support participants into higher level digital skills careers in areas such as cybersecurity, advanced manufacturing, data analytics, game design, and animation. Cadetships will include formal training towards a VET skill set, VET or higher education micro credential, for industry accredited training.