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The Federal Government has spent billions on an economic plan to keep Australians in jobs and businesses in business over the course of COVID-19—more than almost any other country in the world.

An integral part of this plan was introducing incentives for the retainment, re-training and employment of new workers, which in turn, supports ongoing economic recovery. It’s been largely successful, with employment participation steadily increasing and the unemployment rate dropping to 5.6 per cent (against a predicted high of 8 per cent in late 2020).

All will be familiar with the JobKeeper Payment, which ended in March 2021. But there’s still good news for those looking to take on young workers, apprentices and trainees this year, with the government announcing extensions to various measures in the 2021-22 federal budget. These include the Boosting Apprenticeships Commencement and the Job Trainer Fund, while the JobMaker Hiring Credit scheme wraps up later this year.

Below, we bring you a quick refresh of these important employment stimulus measures.

Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements — extended until March 2022

The Federal Government has extended the Boosting Apprenticeships Commencement in a bid to build the pipeline of skilled workers to support sustained economic recovery—with an additional $2.7 billion in funding recently announced.

This initiative targets eligible businesses who engage a new Australian apprentice or trainee between 5 October 2020 and 31 March 2022, with a subsidy of up to 50 per cent of the gross wages paid to new or recommencing apprentices or trainees for a 12-month period from the date of commencement (to a maximum of $7,000 per quarter or $28,000 for a 12-month period).

Here are some quick facts on the scheme:

  • The subsidy is available to employers of any size, industry or location.
  • The previous cap of 100,000 places has been removed.
  • There is no limit to the number of apprentices or trainees employers can receive the subsidy for, provided they meet eligibility criteria.
  • The subsidy is not available for apprentices receiving any other form of government wage subsidy.
  • Final claims for payment must be lodged by 31 December 2021.

This program is in addition to the apprentice and trainee wage subsidy that concluded on 30 September 2020.

For eligibility requirements and further information, visit this government website.

You can also contact an Australian Apprenticeship Support Network (AASN) provider for further information on government apprentice and trainee support programs.

JobMaker Hiring Credit scheme — ends October 2021

The JobMaker Hiring Credit is a tiered incentive available to eligible businesses that take on additional young workers between 7 October 2020 and 6 October 2021. It’s designed to support employment, and businesses do not need to prove a drop in turnover to meet eligibility criteria.

Employers can receive the JobMaker Hiring Credit for eligible workers between 16 to 35 years old:

  • 16 to 29 years > $200 per week credit
  • 30 to 35 years > $100 per week credit

To be eligible, the employee must have received the JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance (Other), or Parenting Payment for at least one of the previous three months at the time of hiring. For more information on the scheme and eligibility criteria, visit this ATO page.

JobTrainer Fund — extended until 31 December 2022

The government has expanded the JobTrainer Fund by a further 163,000 places, and also extended the program until 31 December 2022.

The JobTrainer Fund is aimed at young people and school leavers who can take advantage of subsidised training to learn skills for in-demand jobs, including those in trades. The funding is available for accredited diplomas, certificates and short courses, with focus on training in areas of anticipated growth.

You can find more information on the JobTrainer Fund at the My Skills or Your Career websites.

Wrapping it up

Additional support resources for small-and medium-sized businesses can be found on the ATO website, or check out our blog with tax expert Haydn Stewart for some practical information on measures for employment and investment.

In such an unprecedented time, uncertainties abound not just for businesses, but particularly for individuals and families. There is additional government financial assistance available for vulnerable individuals and households, and you can have a look at them here.

Want to read more on what’s changing in transport? Check out this article by our chief engineer Simon Humphries.