A generous new wage subsidy that will cover the cost of a large portion of an apprentice’s wages over a three-year period will be available from January 1.

The aim of the subsidy is to encourage employers in rural and remote Australia, who have not engaged an apprentice before, to consider doing so.

The new Australian Apprentice Wage Subsidy will cover up to 75 per cent of an apprentice’s first-year award wages, reducing to 25 per cent by the third year of training.

Minister for Small and Family Business, Skills and Vocational Education Michaelia Cash announced the trial apprentice wage subsidy to support regional and rural businesses employ apprentices in skills need occupations on October 31.

The subsidy is available to employers who sign-up and commence a new Australian Apprentice from 1 January. The employer must not have employed an apprentice in the prior three years and the number of subsidies is limited to just over 1630 across the nation.

Apprenticeship Support Australia Manager Lena Constantine says that new incentives and support are needed to lift the lagging number of apprentices and trainees in WA.

“The number of apprenticeship and traineeship opportunities in WA have been in decline for a number of years, and it is encouraging that the Government is trialing solutions to change this trend,” she said.

The latest figures from NCVER shows that the number of people in training in WA was down 7.4 per cent in March, from prior year figures, more than six times the national change.

“Offering support to regional and rural employers is important to give people in our outback towns the opportunities to stay and train on-the-job in their local communities,” she said.

“Employers face enough challenges due to the remoteness in WA, that a generous subsidy like this may make the idea more palatable for many businesses.”

The Australian Apprentice Wage Subsidy is in addition to the suite of employer incentives available under the Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Program.

“If any regional and rural businesses are interested in taking on an apprentice in the new year, we are encouraging employers to call us sooner than later, so that we can ensure WA employers get access to the limited number of the new subsidies that are available,” she said.

Boost for employers taking on older apprentices

Employers will be incentivised to take on an apprentice between the age of 21 and 24 with the Liberal National Government extending the Adult Australian Apprentices payment, which currently applies to 25-year olds and above.

From July 1 2019, eligibility for the Support for Adult Australian Apprentices (SAAA) payment will be extended to employers who take on an eligible apprentice aged 21 to 24 years studying a certificate III or IV qualification in areas of skills needs.

Eligible employers commencing an eligible apprentice will receive a one-off payment of $4000 to take on an adult apprentice aged 21 to 24 years.

► For more information contact your local Apprenticeship Support Australia team member on 1300 363 831. There are team members in 14 towns across WA ready to support businesses located anywhere in the state.