Rural skills training features in election agenda

Rural skills training features in election agenda

Farm Online News
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Major parties duel over rural workplace policies.

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Rural skills training is on the agenda of the federal election, with the Coalition government and Opposition are promoting duelling apprenticeship policies.

The Coalition will double its rural and regional apprentice scheme with a $60 million investment to add 1600 places to its subsidy scheme.

The program kicked off earlier this year and the Coalition said it was an immediate success, with business oversubscribing the placements available under th scheme.

According to the Coalition, the program has supplied more than 450 apprentices in NSW, 330 in Victoria, 400 in Queensland, 100 in South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania and 50 apprentices in the Northern Territory.

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It is available to areas with skills shortages in jobs such as plumbers, mechanics, electricians, painters and hairdressers.

Employers are paid based on the apprentice's relevant award wage rates, with subsidies worth 75 per cent of the apprentice's award wage in the first year, 50pc in the second and 25pc in the third.

The Opposition said a Labor government alternate policy provide extra incentives for 150,000 apprenticeships as part of a $1 billion investment in TAFE and vocational education.

Labor's investment breaks down to $50m for 10,000 pre-apprenticeships, $83m to support 20,000 adult apprentices. $200m for Labor's proposed Building TAFE for the Future Fund, $380m for 100,000 fee-free TAFE placements and $334m for 150,000 additional apprentice incentives.

Labor said the Coalition's scheme excludes employers that hire staff on enterprise bargaining agreements and companies that already employ apprentices, which provides an inequitable advantage to businesses that not previously invested in skills training.

This means regional businesses which pay minimum wages, many having never invested in apprentices, will receive the unsustainable government largess.

Labor will also introduce a national apprentice advocate.

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