The Federal Government will provide $3 billion over the next six years to train thousands of new workers as the centrepiece of its 2011-12 Budget.
The Budget contains a raft of initiatives to support apprentices, increase skilled immigration and provide support for the long-term unemployed.
The Government’s new Building Australia's Future Workforce program is aimed at curbing Australia’s chronic skills shortage.
Treasurer Wayne Swan warns "such skills shortages could constrain our economic growth and mean missed opportunities for Australians".
One of the major pillars of the Government’s new program is a new $558 million National Workforce Development Fund, which will be used to create over 130,000 training places to various industries, while more than $200 million will be used to support apprenticeships through mentoring and modernisation.
The goal will be to deliver 130,000 training places over the next four years.
Skilled migration will also increase, while incentives will be provided to employers who take on the long-term unemployed.
"Better training is essential for the workforce our economy needs, as is encouraging, rewarding, and insisting on the participation of more workers," Swan said in his Budget address to Parliament.
The program is divided into three aspects – training existing workers, attracting the unemployed and increased skilled migration from other nations.
Training places will be co-ordinated with specific industries, which will work alongside the new, $25 million National Workforce and Productivity Agency.
Companies can bid for funding, with large businesses required to pay two-thirds of training costs, medium-sized businesses required to pay 50 per cent and small businesses only liable for one-third of the cost.
This new agency will be responsible for delivering the outcomes of the fund, which represents an expansion of Skills Australia.
To support apprentices the Government has pledged $100 million for training so apprentices can fulfill their qualifications sooner than expected.
A further $101 million is being set aside for a mentorship program.
Other Budget initiatives include:
- $30 million for the More Help for Mature Workers initiative, which will see skills assessments, recognition and gap training provided for workers who are 50 years and older, with relevant skills but no formal qualifications.
- $143 million for 30,000 additional commencements in the Language, Literacy and Numeracy Program.
- $80 million for training places for single and teenage parents.
- $20 million for the Workplace English Language and Literacy program, with $20 million to maintain the Australian Apprenticeships Access Program.