The FWC has announced an increase in wages for Australian apprentices.
The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has announced first-year apprentices who have completed Year 12 will see a pay rise of 30%, bringing their pay to $398.50 pw. Second year apprentices who have completed Year 12 will experience an 18% increase. The increase will be phased in over 2014 and 2015.
The commission stated the increase may help make apprenticeships more attractive, and reduce the current incompletion rates, The Australian reported.
"The full bench decided that there should be differential rates for first and second year apprentices on the basis of completion of year 12 schooling … the introduction of these differentials will protect the position in the labour market of early school leavers whilst encouraging year 12 completion,” the FWC stated.
"The decision by the FWC to increase junior apprentice wages comes with hidden costs and represents an overall increase of up to 50 per cent for employers," Jason O’Dwyer, workplace relations manager at Master Electricians Australia, said.
"We need to take into account other factors such as TAFE training and the time required to attend them, tools and travel expenses, and loss of productivity from tradesmen teaching an apprentice on a one-on-one basis,” he added.
The Coalition has announced its own plan for apprentices, which will involve establishing “Trade Support Loans” from 1 July 2014.
This initiative seeks to provide apprentices with loans of up to $20,000 over four years, interest free, The ABC reported.
These loans apply to apprentices training for either Cert. III or IV qualifications that lead to occupations on the National Skills Needs List.
The threshold at which the loan will be paid back mirrors University loans. In addition, apprentices who complete their apprenticeship will receive a 20% discount on the loan when paying it back.
"This is about helping Australians start an apprenticeship, stay in an apprenticeship and, importantly, to complete an apprenticeship,” Tony Abbott, leader of the Opposition, stated.