Ministers for the Department of Industry and Science
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New skills package delivering the training of the future

19 May 2014

The Australian Government will help more apprentices complete their training and get the skills for real world jobs, as part of a package of new measures to deliver targeted support, Minister for Industry Ian Macfarlane said.

Minister Macfarlane today visited the Hunter region, to discuss the Government’s $1.9 billion Trade Support Loans and new $476 million Industry Skills Fund.

“Australia’s productivity and competitiveness depend on a highly trained workforce,” Mr Macfarlane said as he visited Westrac’s Tomago site north of Newcastle.

“The Australian Government has an Economic Action Strategy that will build a stronger economy and bring Labor’s debt and deficit disaster under control.

“A key plank of this strategy is to ensure our skills and training system is delivering apprentices and students the skills they need to fill the jobs employers want.

“The Hunter is a hub of industry and local apprentices will benefit greatly from our new Trade Support Loans. Around 6,500 apprentices in the region will be eligible including 2,000 in engineering, 1,000 in construction and 1,300 in electrical and telecommunications.

“From July 1 apprentices will have access to $20,000 over their entire training and when completed, 20 per cent will be immediately deducted from the total, with the balance to be paid off once they are on the job and earning.”

Mr Macfarlane said the university HELP-style loans would help support apprentices in places like the Hunter in order to keep building a highly skilled local industry.

Many young apprentices do it tough in the early years and these loans, paid via monthly contributions, will ease the financial burden and help increase training completion rates.

“Our Trade Support Loans are a responsible investment in the nation’s future tradespeople.”

Local employers will also benefit from better-targeted training through the Government’s new $476 million Industry Skills Fund.

“The Industry Skills Fund will support businesses to access high-quality accredited and targeted training that is relevant to industry,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“The Fund will deliver up to 200,000 targeted training places and support services, over four years, that will assist employers upskill their workforce and address critical skills gaps.

“Support services such as language, literacy and numeracy training and mentoring can be funded, as well as tailored, shorter courses that will help small and medium sized businesses to diversify and compete.

“By streamlining training and ensuring that it is relevant to industry we will better position Australian employers to succeed in a rapidly changing global economy.”

Media Contacts: Mr Macfarlane's office 02 6277 7070