Ensuring a pipeline of skilled workers is central to WA’s recovery. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA (CCIWA) welcomes State Government measures announced yesterday, which recognise the importance of retaining key skills, by providing more incentives to help businesses fund investment in apprentices and trainees.
The measures provide a $6,000 subsidy to businesses that hire an apprentice, or a $3,000 subsidy for hiring a trainee, who has been put out of work due to COVID-19. This aligns with a key pillar of the CCIWA Recovery Reform Roadmap to create a stronger and more competitive skills base to help facilitate our recovery and recognises the critical role of on-the-job training.
As revealed in yesterday’s WA-Super CCIWA Business Confidence Survey, 14 per cent of WA businesses have identified potential skills shortages as the biggest barrier to their growth. These concerns are particularly acute in the mining and agricultural sectors. And while State Government measures are actively pump-priming the construction industry, it’s key that the trade skills needed to fulfil demand are supported and retained in WA. With Apprenticeship Support Australia, CCIWA is working to support hundreds of WA apprentices and trainees displaced during COVID-19.
CCIWA also acknowledges the State Government’s intent to enable displaced workers to re-skill by providing funding for VET short courses in areas of critical need such as the health, community and logistics sectors, provided by TAFE and eligible private providers. This recognises an important aspect of the challenge, although it is vital the State Government consider and recognise the important role that market-led training programmes that sit outside the VET system can provide to individuals with core skills employers expect.
These immediate measures do not diminish the need for fundamental reform in the skills and training sector as noted in CCIWA’s original Pre-Budget Submission and our Recovery Roadmap. CCIWA favours reforms to better position the skills and training sector for the future needs of the WA economy, and looks forward to engaging further with the State Government on key reform priorities.