COVID-19 has been a disruptor, but it also presents opportunities for businesses to invest in the skills capital that may help deal with the worst of the crisis.

Governments around the country are recognising the important contribution that skills, education and training are going to provide as part of our economic recovery.

Ai Group has put together a list of grants, initiatives, and programs that could benefit your business, and put it in a stronger position as it emerges from the economic downturn.

*The following table is current as at 18/05/2020 and may change over time.


Higher Education Relief Package

Discounted course fees for 64 six-month, online university short courses for new jobs in National Priority areas including nursing, teaching, counselling, IT and allied health.

Higher Education Relief Package to help Australians to retrain -  

Supporting Apprentices and Trainees Package

Wage subsidies to small businesses to help retain existing apprentices and trainees. Subsidies of up to $21,000 per eligible apprentice or trainee covering wages paid from 1 January to 30 September 2020.

Supporting apprentices and trainees -  

Apprentice and Trainee Re-engagement Register -  

Western Australia

Construction Training Fund support package

An immediate, one-off payment of $2,000 to employers of existing apprentices and trainees currently receiving Construction Training Fund (CTF) grant payments to retain existing apprentices, with payments beginning from 1 June backdated from 1 April 2020.

Payments range from $250 per month to $500 per month, per apprentice or trainee, depending on the trades facing the most critical skills shortages in the industry.

Apprentices and trainees employed in the industry can claim up to $1,000 to support the costs of undertaking short courses to assist them in upskilling.

Construction Training Fund COVID-19 Notice -  

Apprentice and Traineeship Re-engagement Incentive

The Apprenticeship and Traineeship Re-engagement Incentive provides employers with a one-off payment of $6,000 for hiring an apprentice and $3,000 for hiring a trainee, who have had their contracts cancelled or suspended, to continue their 'off the job' training for up to six months.

Employers who take on an apprentice or trainee whose training contract was terminated on, or after, March 1, 2020, are eligible to receive the payment.

The incentive is available to employers until June 30, 2021 from the Department of Training and Workforce Development.

The incentives are supported by a new Out of Contract Register, available on the Jobs and Skills WA website, which helps apprentices and trainees who have been stood down to find a new employer.

The register provides employers with a quick search tool to find apprentices and trainees who are keen to continue their training.

For more information on the Apprenticeship and Traineeship Re-engagement Incentive, visit  

Further support is also available at TAFE Jobs and Skills Centres via  or call 13 64 64. The centres can help with job search, resume assistance and interview tips. Free online resources include videos, a jobs board, and the new 'Career Connect' Facebook community.

Lower Fees, Local Skills initiative

An expansion of the Lower Fees, Local Skills initiative that rolled out before COVID-19. The expanded program now includes 73 courses, including:

  • 27 Certificate courses that will be reduced from between 50 and 67 per cent for areas such as plumbing, agriculture, METRONET courses, construction, electrical trades, health services, fabrication, mental health and disability services.
  • 6 Diploma courses - including Diploma of Nursing, Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care and Diploma of Community Services, will have their fees reduced by 72 per cent.
  • 6 pre-apprenticeship courses will have fees cut by 67 per cent, include automotive electrical technology, engineering, plumbing and, building and construction.
  • 15 short courses in hospitality, logistics, cyber security, agriculture, civil construction and small business. Many of the short courses have built-in foundation digital skills and literacy and numeracy training.

Enrolments open on Monday July 6, 2020. For more information visit  or contact your local Jobs and Skills Centre on 13 64 64.

South Australia

Skills for Business scheme

Equipped for Growth: up to $5,000 to small businesses hiring a new apprentice. For a limited time for training contracts, with a minimum Certificate III level qualification, in place by 31 August 2020 (subject to funding availability).

Equipped for Work: up to $1,500 reimbursement for equipment and services, including online training and working from home expenses when hiring an apprentice (including hiring an existing worker as an apprentice), or if your business has more than 25 employees. A funding increase from $1,000 to $1,500 is available until 31 July 2020

Equipped for Training: a travel and accommodation allowance to support off-the job training of apprentices.

Group Training Boost: a reduced charge out rate of up to $200 per week, per apprentice or trainee for six months, to reduce costs associated with the impact of COVID-19, for eligible commencements from 2 March 2020 – up to $5200 off the GTO charge out rate in total

Financial support to hire an apprentice -  

Financial Support for SA Businesses -  

New South Wales

Fee-Free TAFE NSW Short Courses

34 fee-free TAFE NSW online short courses to assist anyone upskill during the COVID-19 pandemic. The courses include:

  • eMarketing for small business;
  • engaging customers using social media;
  • writing & presentation skills;
  • computing skills;
  • team leader skill set;
  • administration skills for team leaders;
  • leading teams;
  • digital security basics;
  • digital literacy and coding;
  • create a brand presentation; and
  • undertaking projects and managing risk.

Fee Free Short Courses -  


Retrenched Apprentices and Trainees Program

Apprentices and trainees who have lost their employment may register with Apprenticeship Employment Network (AEN) Victoria for assistance to be placed with a host employer through a Group Training Organisation or directly with an employer.

Employers who have job vacancies for apprentices or trainees can submit them to AEN to match vacancies with suitable candidates.

Retrenched Apprentices and Trainees Program -  


Assistance for cancelled apprentices and trainees

Training assistance is now available for school-based apprentices and trainees whose training contracts have been cancelled as a direct result of effects of COVID-19 pandemic.  

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Free online training courses

TAFE Queensland is offering a number of free skill sets and micro-credentials in addition to  COVID Safe skill sets for businesses in the beauty and hospitality industries.

Free online training courses -  

Isolearn -  

If you would like further assistance with the various government incentives presented above, please contact Paolo Damante, Senior Policy Officer, Education and Training: