House debates

Tuesday, 2 February 2021

Questions without Notice


2:46 pm

Photo of Andrew WallaceAndrew Wallace (Fisher, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business. Will the minister please update the House on how the Morrison government is backing businesses by ensuring they have the skilled workers they need? Will the minister outline how critical this is to our plan to build a stronger Australia and to keep us that way?

2:47 pm

Photo of Karen AndrewsKaren Andrews (McPherson, Liberal Party, Minister for Industry) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for his question. I know that he has a very good understanding of the vocational, educational and training sector in this country because he started his working life as an apprentice. Like all of us on this side of the House, he's committed to ensuring that our hardworking businesses have the skilled workforce that they need for the future, particularly but not only in the manufacturing sector, because we understand how important it is that we have a skilled workforce in order to grow our economy and to make sure that we are creating jobs and making Australia stronger.

In this year alone we are investing over $7 billion to keep apprentices in jobs, to help job keepers to re-skill and to promote vocational training so that we can fill the skills shortages, the gaps, that we currently have; that we can make sure that Australians have the skills that they need for jobs of the future; and that businesses are able to draw on a skilled workforce for the skills that they need in order to grow and to develop their businesses. Importantly, we are making sure that this is led by industry. That's why we have invested $1 billion in the JobTrainer fund to give more Australians access to free or low-cost training places in areas of identified skills need. This is going to result in about 340,000 new places. All of the states have signed up to this program. It started to go live very late last year, with the courses going online, and early this year. We've already seen a significant uptake of training places, and we expect that that is going to increase over the coming months.

On top of that, we have apprentice wage subsidies, which have been critical to supporting small businesses through the pandemic and encouraging businesses to take on new apprentices. As of last Friday there were 117,000 apprentices and trainees employed by over 61,500 businesses that have been supported by our wage subsidies. Of those businesses, over 90 per cent were small businesses. They are the ones that are taking the opportunity to take on new apprentices. They're the ones that are out there having a go. That's why this government always supports small businesses. We know that they are the engine room of our economy. They have stepped up significantly during the pandemic, and this government will continue to work with our small businesses.