Australia & NZ

Australia to Help Small Companies Keep Apprentices During Pandemic

The Australian government plans to support as many as 70,000 small businesses employing around 117,000 apprentices (including HVAC&R trainees) with wage subsidies of AUS$1.3 billion (US$0.77 billion) to offset the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19). 

The subsidies will include up to AUS$21,000 (US$12,075) for every apprentice. 

The intention of the program is to help small businesses get back on track after the outbreak eases, said Prime Minister Scott Morrison in an interview with Sky News. “We don’t want them to have to let their apprentices go,” he said.

During a recent coronavirus update in Canberra, Morrison also urged large corporations to be more pro-active in supporting their employees during the crisis. “I’d be encouraging employers to take a flexible and forward-leaning approach in supporting their employees during this process,” he said.

Companies with fewer than 20 full-time employees that retain an apprentice or trainee are eligible for the subsidy, according to the Australian Government. It is also available to group training organizations and employers (of any size) that re-engage an eligible “out-of-trade” apprentice or trainee. The apprentice or trainee must have been in training with a small business as of March 1, 2020.

Eligible employers can apply for a subsidy of 50% of the apprentice’s or trainee’s wage paid during the period from January 1, 2020 to September 30, 2020. When a small business is unable to retain an apprentice, the subsidy will be made available to a new employer.

Registration for the subsidy will start in early April. Final claims for payment must be lodged by December 31, 2020. Employers will be able to access the subsidy after an eligibility assessment is undertaken by an Australian Apprenticeship Support Network (AASN) provider.

To apply for the subsidy or find out more about eligibility, employers can contact an Australian Apprenticeship Support Network (AASN) provider.