Warning to safeguard trainees and apprenticeships 

Chris Rodwell

CCIWA CEO

Thousands of WA businesses risk missing out on other wage support when they transition off JobKeeper, WA’s peak business group has warned.

Around half of Western Australia’s JobKeeper recipients expect to cease receiving the subsidy after the upcoming re-assessment of eligibility. But while an estimated 9,000 WA businesses will still qualify for the Federal Government’s Supporting Apprenticeship and Trainees subsidy, many are unaware they remain eligible.

This has prompted a warning by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA (CCIWA) and Apprenticeship Support Australia to ensure eligible Western Australian businesses are ready to switch to SAT when they transition off JobKeeper.

Data from Apprenticeship Support Australia and CCIWA indicates that fewer than 50 per cent of eligible businesses in Western Australia are currently in receipt of the SAT subsidy, with the majority opting to receive JobKeeper instead. The SAT pays 50 per cent of an apprentice or trainees wage and does not require a business to demonstrate turnover loss in order to be eligible. It has also been extended to businesses with up to 200 employees who employ an apprentice or trainee.

Apprenticeship Support Australia and CCIWA have called for employers to stand together to secure our State’s skills pipeline, by safeguarding the positions of apprentices and trainees during this transition.

“Just because a business is no longer suffering a 30 per cent decline in turnover, doesn’t mean they’re in good shape,” says Apprenticeship Support Australia Manager Lena Constantine.

“If businesses don’t know they can still access support to help pay their apprentices, those apprenticeships can be at risk.”

She said the WA economy is “in no position to sustain further loss of apprenticeship numbers,” with “shockingly low” apprenticeship and traineeship commencement numbers released on Tuesday.

A shortage of trade skills and other skilled workers in WA will impose higher labour costs and stymie our opportunity to capitalise on any upswing from new projects in the economy. Apprenticeship Support Australian and CCIWA are assisting eligible WA businesses to take up the SAT, and have urged the State Government to support greater flexibility and responsiveness to business needs in our skills and training system.

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