More than 3,000 apprentices and trainees will be able to access free training thanks to the WA Government’s latest initiative to safeguard Western Australia’s future workforce.
Training costs will be covered for apprentices and trainees who have had their contracts cancelled or suspended to continue their training ‘off the job’ for up to six months.
More than half of the apprentices and trainees impacted so far are in hospitality, tourism, wholesale and retail services, personal services, finance, property and business services, and building and construction.
Fees will be paid by the Department of Training and Workforce Development directly to training providers. Providers will be able to access these payments from July 1, 2020.
“COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on local businesses which, in turn, has impacted many apprentices and trainees. More than 3,000 apprentices and trainees have had their contracts cancelled or suspended since March 1, 2020,” WA Premier Mark McGowan said.
“Over half of those apprentices and trainees are in hospitality, tourism, wholesale and retail services, personal services, finance, property and business services and building and construction. By scrapping course fees for six months, apprentices and trainees who are experiencing financial hardship will be able to continue their training.”
“There has already been a significant investment in training and incentives for many of the current suspended and out of contract apprentices and trainees and we want to keep them engaged with training so the skill pipeline needed for recovery is not disrupted,” WA Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery said.
“This is great news for those people affected and for the rebuilding of a post COVID-19 economy. Skilled workers across a range of trades and occupations will be in high demand and they need as much support as possible.”
Eligible apprentices and trainees displaced between March 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020 will be entitled to fee relief. There will be no course and resource fees for any units commenced by these apprentices and trainees for up to six months.
Fee relief will continue to apply if the apprentice or trainee is subsequently picked up by another employer.
This support will make apprentices and trainees more employable in the recovery and is just one of the measures implemented by the WA Government to keep WA’s pipeline of skilled workers on track during COVID-19.
The fee relief is supported by a new Out of Contract Register, available on the Jobs and Skills WA website, which will help apprentices and trainees who have been stood down to find a new employer. The register offers employers a quick search tool to find apprentices and trainees who are keen to continue to develop their skills.
Employers will also benefit from a more flexible approach to training apprentices and trainees during the COVID-19 recovery period, given that it may be difficult to meet some requirements while restrictions are in place.