The federal government will invest $200 million each year to establish a new Australian Apprenticeship Support Network to lift apprenticeship completion rates.
The Australian Apprenticeship Support Network will give young Australians the best opportunity to get a job and provide employers with the skilled and productive employees they need to grow their business.
Apprentices will be assisted to find an employer to begin their apprenticeship and receive mentoring through to the successful completion of their apprenticeship.
Apprentices will be able to access career advice with dedicated support outside their workplace throughout their apprenticeship.
The new Australian Apprenticeship Support Network will also undertake community employment outreach by working with employers, industry groups and local chambers of commerce to identify job opportunities and employer skills needs.
Apprenticeship completion rates are currently around 50 per cent.
The new Network will provide a one-stop-shop for employers, particularly small business, looking to hire a new apprentice suited to their business.
The new initiative follows calls from employers, industry groups and apprentices to improve the current system, which has been in place since the 1990s.
The new system will replace the “unwieldy and overly bureaucratic system” that has become bogged down in red tape.
The Australian Apprenticeship Support Network will:
· Connect apprentices and employers through targeted job-matching;
· Provide advice about different course options and training delivery options;
· Deliver personalised mentoring and support to apprentices;
· Provide advice to businesses taking on apprentices, including their roles and responsibilities; manage the administration of an apprenticeship including the training contract and
· Administer the Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Program including employer incentives and trade support loans.
The Government has already introduced new Trade Support Loans offering up to $20,000 over the life of an apprenticeship to encourage more young Australians to start their career with an apprenticeship and complete their qualification.
The new loans are spread over four years and provide greater assistance by easing the financial burden in the early years of an apprenticeship when the apprentice’s income is often lower.
The new network begins from July 1 next year 2015, making it easier for employers to recruit, train and retain apprentices and trainees.
Apprentices and businesses will be able to access the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network’s services at no cost.
The Australian Industry Group (AiGroup) said the skills initiatives represent “a major and welcome shift in focus for the support of skills development in Australia.”
“Australia needs more apprentices now and the best way to do this and make sure our skills needs of the future are met is through an employer driven model, said AiGroup chief executive Innes Willox. “This is crucially important so that industry has a skilled and productive workforce to transition to the industries of the future and to be effective in the global landscape. This new employer-driven approach represents a much needed streamlining of the apprenticeships system and supporting youth pathways programs and will be welcomed by employers.
“The new approach will help ensure that industry has the capable workforce needed to secure Australia’s future competitiveness.”