A $1bn budget plan to train and reskill the workforce includes extending the JobTrainer program for another 12 months, targeting school leavers, young Australians and jobless. The initial $1.5bn policy aimed to support employers to take on new apprenticeships and traineeships, was scheduled to expire in September. Designed for 17 to 24 year-olds and the unemployed, JobTrainer will allow thousands of people to be offered free or low-fee courses, preparing them with skills necessary to address areas of shortage such as IT, aged care and nursing. The subsidy would cover half the wages of 100,000 new apprentices, for up to $28,000 a year per person.
Australia is currently heading into one of the lowest apprenticeships numbers since the 1990s. In order to address current skill shortages, it is forecasted that 320,000 apprenticeships need to be taken up. Mr Frydenberg has mentioned that, ‘"JobTrainer has been a very successful program — more than 100,000 places already and that is helping equip people with the skills they need to find the work that they need”.
Government intends to reduce unemployment, currently at 5.6%, down to 4.5% to help lift wages growth materially to push inflation back into the target band of 2-3%. Already 760,000 jobs that were either lost or reduced to zero hours as the COVID crisis hit, have returned into the economy. However, up to 200,000 new jobs needs to be created to meet the budget goal and boost wage growth that has been subdued due to the globalisation of product and labour markets, technology competing against workers for workplace tasks and weakening of trade unions. Outlook economics director Peter Downes said that ‘A one percentage point fall in the unemployment rate would improve the federal budget balance by more than $20 billion’. Increased taxation revenue and reduced expenditure on unemployment benefits or training programs will assist the Federal Government drive down debt levels into the future.
Morrison’s JobTrainer program is one of the many key initiatives to improve the resilience of Australia’s labour market leading into the future. Other policies include the $1.7bn childcare stimulus package with many more to be released in the Federal Budget for 2021-22.