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HVAC&R poised to play key role in Australia’s recovery

The Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heating (AIRAH) has applauded this year’s strong Federal Budget focused on economic recovery, and says the HVAC&R industry will play a vital role in making the government’s programs pay off.

“As our Treasurer Josh Frydenberg noted, jobs are key,” says AIRAH CEO Tony Gleeson, M.AIRAH, “especially in sectors such as the built environment. And with the right strategies in place, we can ensure that the work contributes to Australia’s long-term capacity, efficiency and sustainability.”

A highlight of the Budget is the plan to create 100,000 apprenticeships through a $1.2 billion package that will subsidise 50 per cent of apprentices’ wages. More than $900 million has also been allocated to provide more university places and support for students. And almost $25 million has been committed to a new program starting in 2021 to create pathways to STEM careers for up to 500 women through industry-sponsored advanced apprenticeship-style courses.

“This is all positive news,” says Gleeson. “Our industry, like many others in the building and construction sectors, relies on both university-educated engineers and technicians who come through the VET and apprenticeship system. We are also pleased to see the efforts to make our traditionally male-oriented workforce more diverse and inclusive.”

Many of these new workers could be employed by businesses taking advantage of schemes for deducting the cost of eligible depreciable assets and instantly writing off newly acquired assets.

“There will be jobs in selling, delivering, installing, and servicing these assets,” says Gleeson. “But it is imperative that when the rules of the scheme are defined, assets such as HVAC&R equipment are classed as eligible. By purchasing or upgrading this equipment, businesses will not only help create jobs in the short term – they will make their operations more energy-efficient, saving money and reducing emissions for many years to come.

“This initiative, along with the funding for energy efficiency in commercial and residential buildings – announced before the Budget – can put us on the road to a prosperous and sustainable future.”

Australia’s new workforce will also be busy working on infrastructure projects across the country. Gleeson says this presents the government with a further opportunity to support apprentices, by changing procurement guidelines in the building code so that apprentices must be employed on federal government-funded projects.

Finally, AIRAH has backed the $1 billion allocated to Australian universities for research, as well as the $1.6 billion boost to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

“Investment in the creation and translation of knowledge is critical if Australia is to have a technology- and education-led recovery,” says Gleeson. “Overall, this Budget is an investment in Australia’s skilled, resilient, productive and clean future economy, powered by a strong STEM-skilled workforce.

“It gives us the impetus to achieve a strong post-COVID recovery. The HVAC&R industry looks forward to playing our part in that recovery.”

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