On 16 July, 2020 the Morrison Government announced a $2 billion dollar package to invest in the access and development of new skills for Australians in an increased effort to help bolster the Australian economic recovery from COVID-19. The package would allow Australians the chance to retrain and upskill in order to gain entry into new sectors and provide opportunities for new jobs. The skills package also guarantees support for apprentices by subsidising wages to ensure continued employment and training.
The Department of Education, Skills and Employment website says that further information about these changes will be made available in the coming weeks.
The Treasury’s fact sheet ‘Supporting apprentices and trainees’ has been updated following the above announcement, and it provides an overview of how the scheme currently works and what the key dates are.
Regarding existing and new employees
- For small businesses, the apprentice or trainee must have been in an Australian Apprenticeship as at 1 March 2020.
- For medium businesses, the apprentice or trainee must have been in an Australian Apprenticeship as at 1 July 2020.
- However in both cases, they need not have been ‘on the books’ for an employer at these dates. If the apprentice moves to a new employer before the scheme ends on 31 March 2021, the new employer (of any size business) can receive the subsidy for that apprentice. This is reiterated in the Department of Education, Skills and Employment fact sheet where it says “Any employer (including all small, medium or large businesses and Group Training Organisations) who re-engages an apprentice or trainee displaced from an eligible small or medium business may also be eligible for the subsidy”.
The Treasury’s fact sheet ‘JobKeeper Payment – Frequently Asked Questions’ (see page 13) confirms that the wage subsidy is not available whilst the employer is receiving the JobKeeper Payment. Presumably if the JobKeeper Payment ceases on 27 September as planned, employers who are eligible for the wage subsidy will be able to start/restart receiving the subsidy from 27 September to 31 March 2021.
At this time, the only official information on these measures are contained in the PM’s press release dated 16 July 2020. You can read the full release here: PM’s press release