The Federal Government announced late 2018 they will be trialling a new Apprentice Wage Subsidy program in a bid to curb youth unemployment levels across regional Australia. The program aims to address current and future skills shortages across the trades sector.

On 31 October 2018, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, Minister for Small and Family Business, Skills and Vocational Education, announced a trial apprentice wage subsidy to support regional and rural businesses. The program aims to address current and future skills shortages across the trades sector by incentivising employers in regional areas to take on new apprentices in their business from 1 January 2019. Eligible employers will be able to access subsidies for the apprentice’s first three years. An Apprenticeship Network Provider will assist employers.

The Australian Apprentice Wage Subsidy is available to employers who sign-up and commence a new worker Australian Apprentice from 1 January 2019 and until 1630 sign-ups have occurred. It is hoped that if the trial becomes successful, further funding will be made available. Employers who employ a new Australian Apprentice undertaking a full-time Certificate III or IV qualification that leads to an occupation listed on the National Skills Needs List in a rural and regional workplace are eligible for the funding that will deliver to the employer 75% of the apprentices first year wage; 50% of the second year wage and 25% of the third year wage. The Australian Apprentice must be employed under the relevant Award (modern award) for their occupation.

Luke Covell played 153 matches in the NRL with the Cronulla Sharks and Wests Tigers scoring 62 tries. Luke retired from sport in 2012 and took up an Australian Apprenticeship, a Certificate III in Plumbing. He is now his own boss as the owner of Pink Plumbing; a plumbing and gas fitting business on the Gold Coast. Luke said “Starting an apprenticeship was the most attractive choice for me after footy.” Scott Cam is one of Australia’s most loved television personalities. His rise to becoming a household name started with an Australian Apprenticeship. “My apprenticeship was one of the best things I ever did,” Scott said. “It gave me time to learn on-the-job, and there’s no better way of learning than just getting stuck into it.” 23-year-old Robert Reynolds finished his TAFE studies, a Certificate III in Furniture making (Wood Machining) ahead of schedule. Building on a Certificate II in Construction that he received in year 12, Robert had his competencies signed off two years early. He now has time to further complement his trade skills by undertaking a computer-aided design (CAD) course while still working for Central Coast Group Training (CCGT) and his host employer, Open Shutters.