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A wage subsidy program for apprentices and trainees will be extended for 12 months in a move expected to generate 70,000 new places nationwide.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said 100,000 new apprenticeship positions had been snapped up within five months under the fully-subscribed Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements program.

The program will now become demand driven and expanded for a full 12 months for new apprentices and trainees signed up prior to September 30, 2021.

The Government expects to invest about $1.2 billion into the new places, matching the spend for the initial phase.

“Creating jobs, generating economic opportunities and boosting the skills of workers right across Australia are at the heart of our National Economic Recovery Plan, as we build back from the COVID-19 recession,” Mr Morrison said.

“Last week’s National Accounts showed the comeback of the Australian economy is underway, however many businesses still need support and it’s important our apprentices and trainees get opportunities to boost their skills and stay employed.

“With 100,000 new apprenticeship positions already snapped up, it highlights the confidence businesses have in the future of the Australian economy.”

Extension offers certainty for employers – ACCI

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry welcomed the move, saying extension of the 50 per cent wage subsidy recognised the program’s outstanding success in reversing the downward slide in apprentice and trainee numbers. 

“This program has been key to rebuilding our country’s skills base in the COVID recovery period,” acting chief executive officer Jenny Lambert said.

“The current program was taken up in full well in advance of the timetable, so we welcome the Federal Government’s decision to uncap the program. 

“The extension provides certainty for employers in taking on apprentices and trainees with the subsidy available for a full 12 months for all apprentices and trainees signed up in October last year.” 

Ms Lambert said apprenticeships required considerable investment from employers, and these subsidies would help underpin that cost.