The Coalition Government is committed to supporting the jobs and skills needed to grow and diversify the Australian economy.

Assistant Minister for Education and Training, Senator Simon Birmingham, said the Government was investing around $6 billion this year to support people undertaking vocational education and training (VET), including more than 300,000 apprentices.

“One of our key initiatives is supporting apprentices with the costs of living through Trade Support Loans,” Senator Birmingham said.

“Trade Support Loans provide eligible apprentices with up to $20,000 to cover the costs of living – significantly more support than provided by Labor’s Tools For Your Trade programme, which was capped at $5,500.

“Unlike Labor’s poorly managed programmes, the Trade Support Loans programme is targeted to need:

  • It provides the greatest support at the beginning of the apprenticeship – when the risk of dropping out is highest;
  • The loan amounts are highest in the early years of training while apprentice wages are lower. By providing the greatest support at the beginning of the apprenticeship, this Government is helping apprentices purchase work gear like tools or boots, navigate transport costs or perhaps even purchase a second hand ute; and
  • The programme will help drive completions because it offers a financial incentive – a 20% discount on the loan – to those who successfully complete their apprenticeship.

“In contrast, Labor cut more than a billion dollars from apprenticeships between the 2011-12 Budget and the 2013 Federal Election, including millions of dollars in incentives taken out overnight on the eve of the election. This triggered a downward spiral in apprenticeship and trainee commencements.

“In the 12 months after Labor discontinued the $1500 standard employer commencement incentive for existing worker apprentice and trainees in non-National Skills Needs List occupations, apprentice and trainee commencements halved, from 126,200 in the June 2012 quarter before the cut, to 61,600 in the June quarter after the cut. The number of apprentices and trainees in training dropped by more than 100,000 over the same period.

“Our Government is further supporting apprentices and their employers by:

  • Cutting the small business company tax rate to the lowest in almost 50 years and for two years, giving all small businesses an immediate tax deduction on any asset they buy costing up to $20,000. This will benefit more than 95% of all Australian businesses, including the many small businesses and tradespeople who employ an apprentice;
  • Providing up to $200 million a year for the new Australian Apprenticeship Support Network to provide more help to employers, particularly small business employers, to recruit, train and retain apprentices;
  • Abolishing Labor’s secret plan to make employers responsible for the administration of apprenticeships – a plan that would have added $46 million in red tape costs to businesses every year; and
  • Providing financial support to almost 80,000 employers this year to help with the costs of employing an apprentice through the Australian Apprenticeship Incentives Program.

“We are building an apprenticeship system which responds to the needs of employers, the economy and supports apprentices,” Senator Birmingham said.

Media contact: Caitlin Keage 0427 729 987