Federal Budget 2021-22 – Opportunities for our regional workforce!

RDA AHFKI has reviewed Tuesday’s Federal Budget and summarized the key announcements with a special focus on Skills, Training and Employment and supports for business and employers, along with job seekers. Highlights include additional funds for skills training in specific industries, increased apprenticeship numbers and increases to wage subsidies for employers.

Whilst the full implications of the regional spend are not yet known it clearly shows key areas for Federal Government spending in 2021-2022. The below details some of the clear areas of expenditure identified in the budget as they relate to skills, training and education.

Richard and Oliver from the RDA AHFKI Workforce Team are working closely with officers from the Department of Education Skills and Employment and other stakeholders to leverage existing and coming funding and programs and identify opportunities and projects that can support local industry and employers meet workforce challenges.

Improving employment opportunities

Attracting Australian workers to modern agriculture

$25.2 million from 2021-22 to 2024-25 to support the agriculture sector to attract people to modern agriculture job opportunities.

Building improvements in agricultural workforce practices

$4.6 million from 2021-22 to 2024-25 to support agricultural employers and businesses build workforce management and planning practices.

Skills and training

Boosting skills development across Australia

$149.2 million over four years from 2021–22 to enhance the role of industry in the VET system through the establishment of new Industry Clusters.

$12.1 million to provide a more consistent approach to apprenticeships and traineeships and improve mobility of the skilled workforce.

Extending and expanding the JobTrainer Fund

Extension and expansion of the $1.0 billion JobTrainer Fund. The Government will provide an additional $500.0 million in funding to be matched by state and territory governments. The enrolment period will be extended to 31 December 2022 and eligibility will be expanded to include additional select cohorts including aged care workers. This measure will deliver around 163,000 additional free or low-fee training places in areas of skills need, with around 33,000 of these places to support aged care skills needs and around 10,000 places for digital skills courses.

Increasing apprenticeship commencements

50 per cent wage subsidy to support 100,000 new apprenticeships. Government will provide an additional $2.7 billion over four years from 2020–21.

$1.2 billion to uncap the program and extend the wage subsidy period to 12 months from the date of commencement, as announced on 9 March 2021

$1.5 billion to further extend the BAC wage subsidy for an additional six months from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022 and support an evaluation of the program.

$2.6 million in 2021–22 for the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network to deliver 5,000 additional Gateway Services to women and provide in-training support services for women commencing in non-traditional trade occupations. These services ensure that prospective apprentices are matched with apprenticeships or traineeship pathways suited to their skills and are supported to undertake their training.


Supporting job seekers to return to employment

Employers and employees in regional Australia will also benefit from the Government’s $15.6 million investment in 2021–22 to increase all wage subsidies available through jobactive, Transition to Work, and ParentsNext to $10,000. This will increase the incentives for employers to hire eligible disadvantaged job seekers registered with employment services. Streamlining wage subsidies to $10,000 will simplify arrangements for employers and help disadvantaged job seekers into jobs as the economy recovers.

The Government will commit $1.6 million over two years from 2020–21 to support the delivery of AgMove (Relocation Assistance to Take Up a Job for short-term agricultural work). The Government has also extended eligibility to 17-year-old school leavers and modified eligibility requirements to accommodate shorter harvest seasons and encourage more job seekers to give agricultural work a try.