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Ai Group comment on regional apprenticeship support

Ai Group welcomes the announcement today by Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash that wage subsidies will be introduced for employers who engage apprentices in regional and rural communities. The trial will invest $60 million through the Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Program to support apprentices across a number of trades.

"Support is urgently needed by employers who are facing high levels of skills demand particularly for trades and technician workers, as they experience rapid change due in large part to digital transformation. This initiative will assist them to meet current and emerging occupational needs," Ai Group Chief Executive, Innes Willox, said today.

"The incentives will also have the benefit of helping reduce youth unemployment and underemployment, a problem more prevalent in rural and regional Australia.

"The trial will be important in ascertaining whether this wage subsidy approach is affordable and sustainable across the country.

"Ai Group has been vocal on issues affecting our members in the apprenticeship system for some time. The downturn over a decade in apprenticeships and traineeships commencements and completions has long been recognised as a major issue. The Government's Skilling Australians Fund which involves matched funding from states and territories, has promised to support up to 300,000 apprentices, trainees, and pre- and higher-level apprentices over four years. However, there has been slow progress towards implementation.

"As industry, in all regions, transforms through digitalisation, the need for more trades workers will continue to grow," Mr Willox said.

Media enquiries: Tony Melville – 0419 190 347