Reforms to the Australian Apprenticeships system have been introduced in order to provide more consistency across states, address specific industry skills needs and encourage increased completion rates of apprentices and trainees. Linda Nall outlines the changes.
Recent reforms to the Australian Apprenticeships system have been introduced in order to provide more consistency across states, address specific industry skills needs and encourage increased completion rates of apprentices and trainees. The biggest changes have been to address apprentice completion rates and engage older people in the workforce through an Australian Apprenticeship.
Tapping into the mature-aged market
Many businesses like to employ more mature aged apprentices for their job stability and understanding of workplace ethics.
Studies have shown that older people stay longer in their jobs, contribute to the long-term performance of a company, have low levels of absenteeism and are flexible in their working hours and conditions.
The benefits of adapting your business to Australia’s ageing workforce can translate into significant savings in recruitment, training and productivity.
Moreover, as the workforce gets older and the industry profile shifts throughout Australia, reskilling mature aged workers so they can move to where the jobs are, is becoming an increasing imperative.
There are two funding arrangements that will help businesses offset the cost of training. One is for Australian Apprentices aged over 45 and the other is for those aged over 25.
The Mature Aged Worker Incentive program is for those who are over 45 and the Support for Adult Australian Apprentices program is for those aged over 25.
The Mature Aged Worker Incentive
The Australian government encourages businesses to tap into the mature-aged market by providing additional financial incentives on top of the standard Australian Apprenticeships incentives. That can mean an additional Commencement Incentive of $750 and Completion Incentive of $750.
For an employer to be eligible for a Mature Aged Worker Commencement Incentive, the Australian Apprentice must be aged 45 or over at the date of commencement; and has not previously been eligible for the Mature Aged Worker Australian Apprenticeships Commencement or Completion Incentive and meets one of the following criteria:
is in receipt of one or more of the following Centrelink or Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) income support payments for the entire three month calendar period immediately prior to the date of commencement of the Australian Apprenticeship or
was not in paid employment at any time during the three years immediately prior to the commencement of the Australian Apprenticeship; or
is a Stream 3 or Stream 4 client with Job Services Australia immediately prior to the commencement of the Australian Apprenticeship or
has been made redundant within the year immediately prior to the date of commencement of the Australian Apprenticeship and
- has had the Training Contract approved by the STA and
- has been employed by the employer as an Australian Apprentice at the effect date.
The Support for Adult Australian Apprentices initiative
The aim of the Support for Adult Australian Apprentices (SAAA) initiative is to remove barriers for Adult Australian Apprentices (aged 25 or over) and to encourage up-skilling by adult workers through an Australian Apprenticeship.
To be eligible to attract SAAA, an Australian Apprentice must:
be aged 25 or over at the date of commencement and
be undertaking a full-time or part-time Certificate III or IV qualification that leads to an occupation listed on the National Skills Needs List (Appendix B) at the date of commencement. The Building and Construction industry is on this list.
Eligible employers for this initiative – or the Australian Apprentice themselves – may attract Australian Government funding of $7,800 per annum in the first year and $5,200 per annum in the second year, however please note that payment rates differ for full time and part time Australian Apprentices.
Eligibility for either the Mature Aged Worker or the Support for Adult Australian Apprentices Australian Government Incentives can only be determined by an Australian Apprenticeships Centre. This is a free service, so as a business you really have nothing to lose – and so much to gain by organising time for your Australian Apprenticeships Centre to see you.
On top of these particular initiatives, there are other funding opportunities for which your business may be eligible. There are state and region specific incentives (such as the Rural and Regional Skills Shortage incentive) and again, your local Australian Apprenticeships Centre will know what is most relevant to your business and industry.
If you look a bit more widely, you may also find additional funding and support benefits through other government programs such as the Investing in Experience (Skills Recognition & Training) (IIE-SRT) grants program to support mature age workers (aged 50 years and over) to gain nationally recognised qualifications.
And for a person who may have been made redundant, the prospect of reskilling in order to be of value to your business, means new hope and increased self esteem because they are valued.
Please note that the information contained in this article is correct as at July 2012 and may change by publication date.
Relevant Centrelink payments
CDEP Supplementary Payment
Disability Support Pension
Mature Age Allowance
Special Needs Pension
Widow B Pension
Relevant DVA payments
War/Defence Widow/er Pension
DVA Income Support Supplement (ISS)
Income Support Supplement
About the author
Linda Nall is the Group Marketing Manager for MEGT’s Australian Apprenticeships Centre.