Youth Employment Package in Budget to fill gap in Vocational Training before formal Apprenticeships: MBA

Master Builders Australia (MBA) says the youth employment package set out in Tuesday’s budget will fill a much-needed gap in the vocational training by giving young people a paid “taster” of a job before they commit to formal apprenticeships.

The so-called Youth Jobs Path scheme will give a $1000 inducement to businesses to provide a four to 12-week internship for program participants and an income supplement for the participant. As well, there is a $6500 Youth Bonus wage subsidy payment for employers who take on a young worker in employment services for longer than six months.

This would make it much easier for small businesses in the building trade to take on young people, the building lobby group’s chief executive Wilhelm Harnisch said. “It will fill the gap that MBA has called for in terms of preparing them for training,” Mr Harnisch said. “It will encourage builders who have been reluctant to do this because of the costs involved.”

Australia needs to boost its construction workforce of 1,033,000 people by 30 per cent – or 300,000 – over the next decade to meet the rising demand for homes and infrastructure, the MBA estimates. But it is also suffering from a wave of retiring tradespeople and about 30,000 workers are leaving the industry every year. Formal training programs are falling well short of meeting that gap; the latest figures from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research shows that, in the year to September 2015, there were 175,900 apprenticeship commencements (across all industries) and 103,200 withdrawals.

A scheme that allows young people to taste an industry and work out whether a certain trade is suitable for them before either side commits to a formal years-long training program can help cut that inefficient drop-out rate. This program can help with that, Mr Harnisch said. “There isn’t a proper program, employers could engage them without causing all sorts of problems over whether they’re technically an employee or school-based,” he said. “This overcomes the problem of their industrial relations status.”

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