Love them or hate them, Tradies almost certain started their career as an Apprentice.  It may be challenging to employ a young person and teach them your trade, but there are some advantages to hiring apprentices in your workforce.

In March 2019 there was 276,250 workers in training making up 2.2% of the workforce.  In the 12 months prior to 31 March 2019, 73,650 trade apprentices commenced their apprenticeship.  While the figures may be a little different this year, there is no doubt that the government want you to employ apprentices and they are key to keeping youth unemployment manageable.

The COVID-19 recovery is going to be led from the construction industry.  Construction was one of the few industries that could continue to work during the COVID-19 lockdowns but this doesn’t mean the industry has not been impacted.  We know that many projects were cancelled or delayed, and a large number of construction businesses are receiving support for employees through Jobkeeper.  However, one proven way to stimulate an economy is to create large infrastructure projects, and clearly that is part of the plan of our federal and state governments.  These projects last for years, providing many jobs. This in turn allows those employed on the projects to spend in other sectors of the economy, helping with the recovery.

However, in order to execute these projects our country needs a skilled workforce.  The way to skill up the workforce is to encourage apprenticeships.  The stimulus packages announced in March contain incentives to retain apprentices and this incentive has just been extended.

In the first round of stimulus measures there were incentives for small businesses to retain their apprentices by providing a 50% subsidy on the wages of qualifying apprentices of up to $7,000 per quarter.  To qualify the business needed to employ fewer than 20 people and the apprentice needed to be signed up by 1 March 2020.  The original measure was to run until 30 September 2020, providing a maximum of $21,000 per employee.

Recently the government announced that this was to be extended to 31 March 2021.  It is also available to medium employers with 199 or fewer staff.  To qualify the apprentice needed to be signed up prior to 1 July 2020.  This will be a great benefit for those who are getting Jobkeeper for their apprentices.  There will be something to encourage you to retain them when the Jobkeeper measures come off at the end of September.  You have until 1 October to lodge your claim, so while you can’t get both Jobkeeper and the subsidy at the same time, you can be prepared for October.

If you don’t have an apprentice already, the good news is that you can hire an apprentice who had qualified with the 1 July 2020 sign up date but had been let go.  If you hire one of these apprentices you can continue to get the subsidy regardless of the size of your business.

Note, these measures extend to employees obtained through Group Training Organisations, which may make it easier to find a qualifying apprentice.

There are other incentives available based on the industry you are in and the apprentice you take on.  If you are interested, I suggest you find out more information from the Australian Apprenticeship website.

Remember that rebates are applied for apprentices for both workers compensation and payroll tax making them a cost effective form of labour.

Still not sure?  Why not speak to a Group Training Organisation.  They employ the apprentices and hire them out, taking on the management and risk of the apprentice.  If you are not sure if you need an apprentice for the entire term of their apprenticeship, or not feeling confident with the recruitment process, this could be the perfect option for you.

Times are tough and everyone is struggling right now but finding a good quality apprentice may be the key to getting through this difficult time.  Give someone a chance to learn your trade. Our country is counting on it.