The Federal Government will co-fund almost 11,000 extra training places for existing workers in small, medium and large business to boost skills in high demand.
The Government, in partnership with industry, has committed $40 million to the Enterprise Based Productivity Places Program (EBPPP).
A second round of funding of $10 million will be allocated before July this year to deliver an estimated 2,700 additional training places.
Industry has committed more than $15.5 million to help meet the training costs.
The Minister for Education and Employment, Julia Gillard, said the program continued the Government’s pledge to strengthen national productivity and protect the Australian economy.
As the economy improves following the global recession there will be a hunger for highly skilled employees, Ms Gillard said.
The EBPPP will give more than 2350 Australian businesses an opportunity to upgrade their workforce to increase the skills of existing workers, especially those on the priority occupations list.
Under the new program, the Government will provide up to 90 per cent of the cost of training from Certificate III to Advanced Diploma level, depending on the size of the business.
Organisations with fewer than 100 employees will receive 90 per cent of their training costs. Those with between 100 and 199 employees will receive 75 per cent of their training costs, and those with 200 or more employees will receive 50 per cent.
Australian Industry Group chief executive Heather Ridout described the decision as a “good move.”
"Businesses have been enthusiastic in their support of the Program to the point where it has been over-subscribed, Mrs Ridout said.
“Industry is keen to invest in the skills of their existing workers in order to lift their productivity and address skill shortages which will intensify as economic conditions improve.
"Ai Group had sought an expansion of the program because it was proving to be so successful. It has been making a real difference by helping business to give existing workers better skills, that are more targeted to the needs of their enterprise.”
Under the EBPPP, Industry Skills Councils will work with small, medium and large enterprises, and industry bodies to help them carry out the training.
Ms Gillard said the national Industry Skills Council network were a perfect fit for the program, with specialised knowledge on the delivery of skills training to help enterprises navigate the vocational education and training system.
The program is part of the larger Productivity Places Program (PPP). It will create training pathways, recognise the existing skills of workers and provide training to increase the skills of the Australian workforce.
It follows a successful trial last year where more than 1200 workers were trained.