On the 16th of July, the government announced an investment of $2 bn in a bid to help people get into work post the coronavirus pandemic. Included in the announcement is a new initiative called JobTrainer.
The JobTrainer program is proposed to direct support to employers of apprentices and trainees through the expansion of the existing apprentice and trainee wages subsidy, along with providing funding for training places for school leavers and job seekers.
The apprentice and trainee wage subsidy originally announced in the first raft of stimulus measures in March 2020 provided a 50% subsidy of apprentice and trainee wages to eligible employers with less than 20 employees.
The changes announced under the JobTrainer program will see the apprentice and trainee wage subsidy expanded to include employers with less than 200 employees and the eligibility period extended by six months to March 2021. The expansion of the apprentice wages subsidy will help keep apprentices and trainees in work by covering 50% of the wages paid to apprentices and trainees up to $7000 per quarter.
Under JobTrainer the apprentice and trainee wage subsidy includes both small and medium-sized businesses affected by the economic downturn, with less than 200 employees, who have apprentices employed at 1 July 2020.
This program will also extend to eligible businesses that are using a Group Training Organisation and an employer of any size which re-engages an apprentice or trainee displaced from a previously eligible small or medium-sized business.
It is important to note that an employer who currently receives JobKeeper is not able to claim the apprentice wage subsidy, however, under the recently announced changes to JobKeeper many employers may lose eligibility for the JobKeeper payment where they are unable to satisfy ongoing decline in turnover tests. The proposed changes to the apprentice and trainee wage subsidy will however provide an opportunity for employers no longer eligible for JobKeeper to continue to support apprentices and trainees by providing access to the expanded apprentice and trainee wage subsidy under JobTrainer.
Along with the changes to the apprentice and trainee wage subsidy, the government also announced $1 bn would be provided under the JobTrainer program to provide additional training places for school leavers and jobseekers to access short and long courses with the aim of developing new skills and creating a pathway to more qualifications.
For individuals who have already lost their employment due to COVID-19, or who face unemployment as JobKeeper comes to an end, the additional funding will provide a great opportunity to upskill, and we encourage Treasury to consider extending the apprentice and trainee wage subsidy to include apprentices and trainees engaged post 1 July 2020.
Extending the apprentice and trainee wages subsidy program to include new apprentices and trainees seems a no brainer as it would provide support to businesses who may be in a position to grow their workforce and provide increased employment opportunities for individuals who have ‘upskilled’ by enrolling in a short or long course under the JobTrainer program.
At this stage JobTrainer is an announcement only, we will not know the full extent of the opportunities and eligibility requirements until legislation is introduced and passed by Parliament.
HOW CAN RSM HELP?
If you have any queries in relation to the recently announced government stimulus packages, please contact your local RSM office.