Government boosts apprentice program

The Federal Government has extended the Apprentice Kickstart Initiative in the hope of boosting new entrants into the building, construction, and engineering trades.

Under the $57.5 million scheme employers who take on a new apprentices will receive triple the standard bonus, and may be eligible for a further $1500 payment.

Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science, and Research Chris Bowen said the extension meant businesses had until April to benefit from the scheme.

“We know that times are tough for many Australian businesses so we are giving them a helping hand by extending the Apprentice Kickstart Initiative,” he said.

“We want to encourage employers to take on an apprentice, train them up and position their businesses to take advantage of economic conditions as they improve.”

The Government says over 12,000 apprentices have commenced employment under Kickstart, with trades including fitters, welders, metal fabricators, machinists, and toolmakers.

It is hoped the extension will boost a lower than expected uptake for the program, and the change follows union pressure around the country over low wages and dwindling opportunities for apprentices.

First year apprentices earn around $7.80 an hour and unions have long pushed for an increase to the wage so workers can live without financial support.