The WA Government has shown support for the State’s skilled workforce with $93.4 million allocated in the State Budget dedicated to apprenticeship and traineeship initiatives.
The funding aims to support local jobs and create a pipeline of workers for the future, as well as delivering on initiatives to address the current workforce shortage.
Support for construction sector
Through the Construction Training Fund (CTF), the funding includes $26.9m focused on encouraging construction businesses to take on local apprentices and trainees. The funding will support employers with the costs of engaging an apprentice or trainee, increasing the Employer Grant from $10,000 to up to $12,000.
The construction workforce will have $4.2m allocated for a completion grant and tool safety equipment rebate for eligible apprentices completing their training in the 2023-24 financial year. These eligible apprentices will be provided with a one-off $2,000 completion grant and a rebate of up to $500 for tools and/or safety equipment.
Heavy Vehicle Operations training program
A $3.5m investment will enable the Heavy Vehicle Driving Operations training program to expand into the Kimberley and Pilbara. This investment will also support North Regional TAFE to deliver the training to about 350 participants over four years.
The training program was developed in collaboration with industry to address the truck driver shortage during COVID-19 and has been hailed a success by the Government. As of February 2023, 51% (282 of 552) of program participants enrolled at a TAFE had achieved either a Heavy Rigid, Heavy Combination, or Multi Combination licence. About 30% of these participants were women, compared to the overall female representation of truck drivers in WA being less than 4%.
Over two years, starting 1 January 2024, the Government will spend $1.6m to extend the program across WA, providing targeted and practical employment and training support for Aboriginal people.
Support provided through the program includes targeted services to reduce training and employment barriers. This may include assisting participants to get industry tickets or driver’s licences and providing work-related equipment, clothing and PPE.
A $2.5m allocation will increase the accommodation and travel allowance for apprentices and trainees who are required to travel long distances for off-the-job training.
A new $3m TAFE scholarship program will aim to attract more women into traditionally male-dominated occupations and assist with covering their training costs and other associated expenses.
Additionally, a new $11m Construction Visa Subsidy Program will provide employers with grants to offset the costs of supporting overseas workers to fill jobs in WA’s building and construction industry. The program will provide about 1,100 visa subsidies for employers of up to $10,000 to attract skilled migrants to the residential and commercial construction sector in 2023-24.
The Government has also increased its record investment in essential TAFE infrastructure upgrades to $240m for the Rebuilding our TAFEs program.
The Government says these initiatives respond to feedback from State-wide Skills Summits and consultation ahead of the 2022 Australian Jobs and Skills Summit and are important for addressing both the State’s current skills needs and building a workforce for the future.
“We’re listening to industry and delivering practical initiatives that help overcome the barriers to training and equip students with the skills needed to take up jobs, while attracting skilled migrants to fill immediate vacancies in priority areas,” says Training Minister the Hon Simone McGurk MLA.
“Increased TAFE enrolments on the back of our low and fee-free courses has led to more Western Australians receiving the training needed by local industry than ever before.
“We’re also providing valuable incentives for employers and apprentices to help bolster our construction workforce.”
Powered by CCIWA, Apprenticeship Support Australia (ASA), can facilitate employment, manage training and offer support and advice to companies seeking apprentices to boost their workforce.
Contact ASA at [email protected] or phone 1300 363 831.