The government has committed $1.3bn in wage subsidies to help small businesses retain apprentices displaced by the coronavirus downturn. As part of Australia’s COVID-19 response, the subsidies will support small businesses with funding of up to $21,000 ($7,000 per quarter) for every apprentice.
The intention is to help small businesses get back on track after the outbreak eases, said Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
“We don’t want them to have to let their apprentices go,” Morrison said, in an interview with Sky News. “We think this is a very helpful measure.”
The funds are aimed at helping small businesses impacted by the coronavirus to retain apprentices and trainees. They are projected to support up to 70,000 small businesses employing around 117,000 apprentices.
Speaking to the media during a coronavirus update in Canberra, the Prime Minister also urged large corporations to be more pro-active 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.
Eligible employers can apply for a subsidy of 50 per cent of the apprentice’s or trainee’s wage paid during the period from January 1, 2020 to September 30, 2020. Where the small business is unable to retain the apprentice, the subsidy will be made available to a new employer.
Companies with fewer than 20 full-time employees that retain an apprentice or trainee are eligible for the subsidy. It is also available to group training organisations and employers (of any size) that re‑engage an eligible out‑of‑trade apprentice or trainee.
Registration for the subsidy will start from early April 2020. Final claims for payment must be lodged by December 31, 2020. Eligible employers will be reimbursed up to a maximum of $21,000, per eligible apprentice or trainee ($7,000 per quarter).
Employers who wish to apply for the subsidy or enquire information on eligibility can contact an Australian Apprenticeship Support Network (AASN) provider.