More than 20,000 applications have been received for an Australian Government scheme that eases the financial strain on apprentices through flexible loan options.

Assistant Minister for Education and Training, Senator Simon Birmingham, said the milestone shows the importance of the Trade Support Loans Programme in giving apprentices the best possible chance of completing their trade qualification.

“Most of the loan amount is accessible in the first couple of years to support apprentices when costs hit the hardest, and when access to a helping hand would be of most use in keeping apprentices in training,” said Senator Birmingham.

“Eligible apprentices can opt-in and opt-out of the programme as their needs change and may choose to borrow a few thousand dollars for work gear or equipment, save up the payments to buy a second-hand car, or use the full amount to cover living expenses during their training.

“Effective support for apprentices is essential to ensure the Australian Apprenticeships system provides an ongoing supply of skilled workers to support the Australian economy.”

The Trade Support Loans Programme began in July 2014, providing eligible applicants with up to $20,000 worth of loans that are repaid through the tax system once the minimum income threshold has been reached.

Minister Birmingham is in Sydney today holding an apprenticeship roundtable. There will be 18 employers, plus the three VET Advisory Board attendees.

“These employers have over 15,000 Australian Apprentices and Trainees employed collectively in a range of occupations, including electricians, Commercial Cookery, Warehousing Operations, Plumbing, Carpentry, Retail Management, Fabrication and Banking,” he said.

“Amongst the key agenda items for this morning’s discussions are the issues that complicate apprenticeship commencement and success. The roundtable will discuss what is working, what is not, and what will make the difference for Australia’s modern, mobile workforce.”

Apprentices looking for further information on Trade Support Loans can visit or contact their local Australian Apprenticeships Centre.

Media contact: Caitlin Keage 0427 729 987