State Budget’s $93.4 million to support more West Aussies into jobs

The WA State Government's track record of delivering initiatives to build a skilled workforce for the future continues with a $93.4 million investment in the 2023-24 Budget to maximise the number of working Western Australians. The investment prioritises supporting more Western Australians into local jobs and creating a pipeline of workers well into the future, while delivering initiatives to get skilled workers on the ground now.

Delivered through the Construction Training Fund (CTF), the funding includes $26.9 million to encourage local construction businesses to take on local apprentices and trainees. The funding will support employers with the costs of engaging an apprentice or trainee, increasing the Employer Grant from $10,000 to up to $12,000. To further support the construction workforce, $4.2 million has been allocated for a completion grant and tool and safety equipment rebate for eligible apprentices completing their training contract in the 2023-24 financial year. These eligible apprentices will be provided with a one-off $2,000 completion grant and a rebate of up to $500 for tools and or safety equipment.

The funding boost will also assist WA industries to tap into the under-utilised workforce by addressing barriers to participation in training and employment for young people starting out, Aboriginal people, and women returning to the workforce, including those living in regional WA. A $3.5 million investment will see the State Government's successful Heavy Vehicle Driving Operations training program expanded to the Kimberley and Pilbara regions. The program's expansion will support North Regional TAFE to deliver the training to around 350 participants over a four-year period. The course, which is an Australian first, has achieved a strong uptake from women increasing their representation in the truck driving industry.

An investment of $1.6 million over two years will extend a program across the State providing targeted and practical employment and training support for Aboriginal people for a further two years, starting 1 January 2024. Support provided through the program includes targeted services to reduce barriers to training and employment. This may include assisting participants to get industry tickets or drivers licences and providing work-related equipment, clothing and PPE.

A $2.5 million budget allocation will increase the travel and accommodation allowance for WA apprentices and trainees who are required to travel long distances off-the-job for their training. Through a $2.9 million work placement allowance and travel assistance program commencing in January 2024, eligible Diploma of Nursing students in regional WA will receive financial support to undertake up to 400 hours of practical placement required for their training where locally-based placements are unable to be offered.

The State Budget also includes $3 million to establish a new TAFE scholarship program to attract more women into occupations that are traditionally male-dominated and assist with covering their training costs and other associated expenses. Additionally, a new $11 million Construction Visa Subsidy Program will provide employers with grants to offset the costs of supporting overseas workers to fill jobs in WA's building and construction industry. The program will provide around 1,100 visa subsidies for employers of up to $10,000 to attract skilled migrants to the residential and commercial construction sector in 2023-24.

The State Government has also increased its record investment in essential TAFE infrastructure upgrades to $240 million for the Rebuilding our TAFEs program.

The initiatives respond to feedback from State-wide Skills Summits and consultation ahead of the 2022 Australian Jobs and Skills Summit and are important for addressing both the State's current skills needs and building a workforce for the future.

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Training Minister Simone McGurk said "We're listening to industry and delivering practical initiatives that help overcome the barriers to training and equip students with the skills needed to take up jobs, while attracting skilled migrants to fill immediate vacancies in priority areas. Increased TAFE enrolments on the back of our low and fee-free courses has led to more Western Australians receiving the training needed by local industry than ever before. This Budget continues our Government's strong track record of delivering programs to assist under-represented groups to enter training and employment. We're also providing valuable incentives for employers and apprentices to help bolster our construction workforce. We will continue to align training delivery with the skill needs of local industries, taking into account the unique demands of regional WA."

Read the full media statement here