The NSW Nationals in the federal government will invest $2 billion to give hundreds of thousands of Australians access to new skills by retraining and upskilling them into sectors with job opportunities.

The new JobTrainer skills package will also guarantee support for tens of thousands of apprentices in jobs across rural, remote and regional NSW by subsidising their wages to keep them employed and their training secured.  

NSW Nationals Senator Perin Davey said that this will provide a much-needed boost to jobseekers and school leavers in regional areas to ensure locals were trained in the skills needed in the community.

“Backing training, apprentices, and jobs is all part of the Nationals in Government’s plan to restore our economy after the coronavirus pandemic and keep Australians in work,” Senator Davey said.

The new $1 billion JobTrainer Fund will provide up to an additional 108,000 training places across the state to help school leavers and job seekers access pre-apprenticeships, short courses and full qualifications to develop new skills in growth sectors and create a pathway to more qualifications.

Courses will be free or low cost in areas of identified need, with the Federal Government providing $500 million with matched contributions from state and territory governments.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the JobTrainer skills package was focused on getting people into jobs.

“JobTrainer will ensure more Australians have the chance to reskill or upskill to fill the jobs on the other side of this crisis,” he said.

“COVID-19 is unprecedented but I want Australians to be ready for the sorts of jobs that will come as we build back and recover.”

The package also includes an additional $1.5 billion to expand the wage incentive to help keep apprentices in work. It builds on the initial $1.3 billion package announced in March.

In addition to small businesses already covered, the wage subsidy will now be available to medium businesses with less than 200 employees for apprentices employed as at July 1, 2020.

Around 180,000 apprentices and 90,000 small and medium businesses that employ them will now be supported, with the program extended by six months to March 2021.

The initiative covers 50 per cent of the wages paid to apprentices and trainees, up to $7000 per quarter.

The Nationals believe the JobTrainer skills package willl form a vital part of the national recovery efforts.

Our nation has faced many challenges, and it is critical that we keep our apprentices in jobs and help those looking for work. This package will be essential as the economy rebuilds so that people looking for work can reskill and upskill for in-demand jobs, provide school leavers with a pathway into their careers, and ensure businesses are able to get the skilled workers they need.

This will dramatically improve the viability of tens of thousands of apprenticeships and the businesses employing them right across the country.