More than $500 million has been paid to 51,200 employers to keep 89,300 apprentices in work to protect workers and businesses from the impact of COVID-19.

Since launching the Supporting Apprentices and Trainees wage subsidy in April, these payments have ensured stability for apprentices, trainees and employers across Australia.

Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, said this critical measure is helping the economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This $500 million milestone demonstrates the Government’s commitment to a skilled economic recovery,” Minister Cash said.

“This targeted financial support is providing rapid and direct assistance to protect jobs and keep businesses, apprentices and trainees connected to the benefits of training already undertaken.

“The $2.8 billion wage subsidy is a vital part of rebuilding our economy, while at the same time, building a skilled workforce for the future.”

Assistant Minister for Vocational Education, Training and Apprenticeships, the Hon Steve Irons MP, said the Supporting Apprentices and Trainees wage subsidy is available to small and medium businesses who retain an apprentice or trainee. In addition, employers of any size that re-engage an eligible out of trade apprentice or trainee are also eligible.

“The initial $1.3 billion package was extended and expanded in July with an additional $1.5 billion of investment from the Government. This will see up to 180,000 apprentices and 90,000 employing businesses supported,” Assistant Minister Irons said.

“Eligible employers will receive a subsidy of 50 per cent of an apprentice’s or trainee’s wage—up to $7,000 per quarter—with the program also extended to March 2021.”

Minister Cash said the wage subsidy is part of the Australian Government’s $6.5 billion investment in VET in 2020-21.

“We are working closely with jurisdictions to establish the $1 billion JobTrainer Fund, with a $500 million investment to the JobTrainer fund, matched by the state and territory governments,” Minister Cash said.

“This will provide up to an additional 340,700 free or low-fee training places to help Australians upskill and reskill in areas of demand.”

Further information on how to apply for the Supporting Apprentices and Trainees wage subsidy is available at https://www.employment.gov.au/supporting-apprentices-and-trainees