Home AATIS Blog What the COVID-19 crisis means for Australian Apprenticeships


What the COVID-19 crisis means for Australian Apprenticeships

This information is taken from the AATIS webinar run on 16 April 2020. You can watch the video below, or go to the AATIS Webinar channel. Please check the original source in the links for the most up to date information.

The COVID-19 pandemic crisis is affecting employment and education for individuals right across Australia. Governments and organisations are working to stem the effects of the pandemic, with many initiatives having already been released.

During this webinar we heard from three key organisations in Australian Apprenticeships, discussing what help is available to apprentices, trainees and employers. Thank you to Lynda, Ben and Di (AATIS, and the National Australian Apprenticeships Association and National Apprentice Employment Network respectively) for their time and expertise during this session.

Key resources

Watch the webinar and download the slides

Hear from three experts in the Australian Apprenticeships sector, sharing information about support available for employers and apprentices.

Lynda (AATIS) discusses support for business and individuals.

Ben (NAAA) explains how the AASN providers can support employers and Australian Apprentices, including potential upcoming projects.

Di (NAEN) describes the new displaced apprentice and trainee register, and discusses how GTOs can support apprentices.

Download Slides

Australian Apprenticeship Support Network providers

The National Australian Apprenticeship Association (NAAA) consists of seven Australian Apprenticeship Support Network (AASN) providers. AASNs are responsible for the sign-up of apprentices and trainees, and manage targeted services which includes the Gateway recruitment service and in-training mentoring and support services.

Every apprentice and trainee, and employer of apprentices and trainees, must use an AASN for the official sign up into a training contract. If there are issues during the apprenticeship or traineeship, including during difficult times such as now, the AASN can provide information and support. The AASN will work with the employer in regards to relevant incentives.

Find an AASN

Group Training Organisations

The National Australian Apprentice Association (NAEN) is the peak industry association for Group Training Organisations (GTOs). GTOs are the largest employer group of apprentices and trainees in Australia.

A GTO is the legal employer of the Australian Apprentice, on behalf of a host employer. They provide recruitment services to employers, and may be able to find an apprenticeship or traineeship position for a job hunter. The GTO provides support to the apprentices, trainees and employers they work with.

GTOs are an important part of the Australian Apprenticeships landscape, as they provide stability for the apprentices and trainees in their employment, particularly when it comes to retaining or recommencing.

Find a GTO

Hear more from Ben Bardon on Thursday 16/4 nights episode of ABC's The Drum (starting at 22:25)

Watch now

Supporting Apprentices and Trainees

The Federal Government has invested $1.3 billion into the Supporting Apprentices and Trainees stimulus package. It pays 50% of and apprentice or trainee wage, for employers with 19 employees or less. Employers could receive three payments of up to $7,000 to a total of $21,000, across the January to September period.

There are 273,000 Australian Apprentices in Australia and it was originally thought that 117,000 of those would be with potentially eligible small businesses but after further analysis, it was discovered that 140,000 Australian Apprentices could be eligible.

As of 2 April 2020 around 140,000 claim forms had been sent to eligible employers. The first claim came in at 3am and in 24 hours there were around 50,000 applications.

It is great to see employer being so keen, but it has been a great deal of work to find employers records and go through all the applications to check eligibility.

NAAA and organisations across the sector welcome the government being so supportive, providing the biggest increase in investment to the sector, possibly ever.

More Information


JobKeeper is administered by the Australian Tax Office, and is $750 per week for retained employees including Australian Apprentices. Eligibility requirements are for a small to medium that they have a 30% reduction in turnover, large employers with a 50% reduction, and charities and not for profits a 15% reduction.

Employers are not able to get both the Supporting Apprentices and Trainees and JobKeeper allowances. Many employers who are not eligible for Supporting Apprentices and Trainees may be eligible for JobKeeper. We could see a migration from Supporting Apprentices and Trainees to JobKeeper as it pays 100% of an Australian Apprentices wage. For example, a second year apprentice could earn $500 a week so the $750 payment effectively gives the apprentice a 50% pay rise.

There could be some businesses that will fall through the gaps as the JobKeeper payment will not come into effect until May 2020 and some employers may not be able to afford to pay their staff the required levels until then. Many businesses that have already gone into hibernation such as the hospitality and personal service industries may not reopen and may not undertake the necessary paperwork to access payments for staff.

Current and suspended apprentices and trainees, and ASbAs, may be eligible to receive JobKeeper if their employer meets all other eligibility criteria. Suspended apprentices and trainees who do not receive JobKeeper may be eligible for JobSeeker or Youth Allowance, and/or other support payments.

More Information

NAEN employment register

The Department of Education, Skills and Employment engaged NAEN to create and run a register of displaced apprentices and trainees who attract the Supporting Apprentices and Trainees wage subsidy. The AASNs assess eligibility of apprentice, trainees and employers.

Apprentices and trainees who have lost their job, or who are suspended, are able to register their details. Employers are able to register their details to be able to be matched with potential apprentices and trainees. As the Supporting Apprentices and Trainees subsidy is based on the size of the original employer, larger employers who take on a displaces apprentice or trainee may be able to access the subsidy.

The register works somewhat like a dating app - there is no guarantee that an apprentice or trainee will match with an employer, or vice versa. However this is an excellent way to start looking for a new apprenticeship or traineeship, with employers and GTOs using the register for recruitment.

Go to Register

Job hunting

During the COVID-19 situation, job hunting has become more challenging than usual for many people with many businesses not running to their full capacity. It is therefore important that job hunters are realistic about their chances of finding employment. For example, with closures to much of the hospitality sector, there are significantly fewer than usual job openings.

There are several industries that are currently recruiting, either because business as usual has not changed, or because of increases in demand during the current climate. These include areas such as health care and community services, some areas of manufacturing, and some trades.

Using your networks continues to be a highly effective way to find a position. You can find more tips on our How to find an apprenticeship page.

DESE also have a jobs hub where employers are posting their postions; these are mostly not apprenticeships and traineeships, but are a good way to stay engaged in the current labour market.

DESE Jobs Hub

Support networks

Current apprentices and trainees, and their employers, can access support throughout the duration of the apprenticeship through their AASN or GTO. During the current situation, any employer, apprentice or trainee who feels they need additional support should contact their provider.

For mental health and wellbeing support, BeyondBlue have an online forum. You can also contact:

  • Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Line 1800 512 348
  • Lifeline 13 11 14
  • Beyond Blue 1300 22 46 36

In-training support

AASN providers support approximately 40,000 apprentices each year through their in-training support service. Most of these apprentices are at risk of dropping out and individualised plans are tailored to best suit their needs.

NAAA has approached the Department of Education, Skills and Employment with a proposal to extend this service to assist with recommencement or working with another employer for apprentices that are cancelled or suspended. This will overlap with NAEN’s displaced apprentices and trainees register project.

If you are an apprentice or trainee who's contract has been suspended or cancelled, please contact your AASN or GTO to find out more about the support you can access.

School students and ASbAs

Each State and Territory has different requirements for their Australian School-based Apprenticeships (ASbA), including changes to ASbA and ATAR requirements during this time. If you are undertaking an ASbA and you are unsure how current changes will affect your schooling or apprentices, you should talk with your school. You may also need to contact the relevant State or Territory Government for more information.

Employers with ASbA students, who otherwise meet the eligibility criteria, are able to receive Supporting Apprentices and Trainees and JobKeeper incentives. Contact your AASN provider for more details.

DESE Initiatives

The Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE) has a range of information about the COVID-19 situation, and what it means for people in the Australian education system. Their information hub is regularly updated with the latest information.

This includes the latest information about JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments, Supporting Apprentices and Trainees, and other government initiatives to support employees, employers, students and training providers.


Market analysis

NAAA is undertaking market analysis to understand the effects of the COVID-19 shutdown on Australian Apprentices. This includes looking at the National Skills Needs List (NSNL) to determine who could be most affected by social distancing rules. Those apprenticeships on the NSNL are most likely to not be able to be completed at home, and it could be that business are currently fulfilling orders but there may not be any new business coming in.

The current best estimate of cancelled and suspended Australian Apprenticeships is at 7,200, although there can be a delay of a month to 6 weeks for these figures to be updated. It is possible that this figure is already at 10,000 to 12,000. Under current restrictions, this could rise to 53,000 Australian Apprentices.

NAAA will be reporting to DESE with a weekly update on market intelligence for Australian Apprenticeships figures. During the Global Financial Crisis there was a 6% drop in commencements, and the situation we are in now is deeply concerning on all levels.

Staying updated

AATIS is aiming to collate information and resources for apprentices and trainees, and employers during COVID-19. The Australian Apprenticeships Pathways COVID-19 Information page will be regularly updated with new information as it becomes available.

To share information and resources, or to stay abreast of changes in the industry, join one of the Active AATIS Facebook groups:

If you have any questions about Australian Apprenticeships, including about how the COVID-19 situation is affecting apprenticeships and traineeships, please contact the AATIS team on 1800 338 022 or through the Contact Us page.


Industry Capability Network (ICN) Gateway

It is a networking platform for businesses by the Industry Capability Network. It links Government projects with supply chains in response to COVID-19.

Along with Federal Government projects, each state and territory has its own projects and this link will allow you to register or contact ICN directly if you think you can assist.

Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre - COVID-19 Manufacturer Response

Via this portal, the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre aims to collate any expressions of interest with regards to supporting Australian efforts to treat, contain and mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak.

New South Wales

NSW Government COVID-19 Response: preview.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/financial-support

  • NSW COVID-19 Stimulus Package:
    • Working for NSW fund
    • Deferral or wavier of payroll tax
    • Waved fees and taxes in some industries
    • Job creation measures including hiring extra cleaners for public infrastructure
    • Bringing forward capital works
  • Helping the most vulnerable:
    • Funding to prevent homelessness
    • Boosting the Energy Accounts Payments Assistance scheme
    • Supporting charities for food security, and Lifeline
  • Flexible long service leave

Northern Territory

Northern Territory Government Business Recovery: businessrecovery.nt.gov.au/


Business Queensland information on COVID-19: business.qld.gov.au/

South Australia

SA Government COVID-19 Response: covid-19.sa.gov.au/


Tasmanian Government Coronavirus Disease website: coronavirus.tas.gov.au/


Business Victoria COVID-19 Business Support overview: business.vic.gov.au/disputes-disasters-and-succession-planning/illness-and-business-management-plan/coronavirus-business-support

Western Australia

Got a question about support available to apprentices and businesses?

Contact us