PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) has welcomed the federal government's A$2-billion JobTrainer skills package, saying it will assist the nation’s mineral employers to boost the rate of economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the JobTrainer 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.
“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 jobs and skills we’ll need as we come out of the crisis are not likely to be the same as those that were lost.”
The new A$1-billion JobTrainer programme will provide up to an additional 340 700 training places to help school leavers and job seekers access short and long courses 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 A$500-million with matched contributions from state and territory governments.
The package also includes an additional A$1.5-billion to expand the wage incentive to help keep apprentices in work. It builds on the initial A$1.3-billion package announced in March.
In addition to small businesses already covered, the wage subsidy will now be available to medium-sized businesses with less than 200 employees for apprentices employed as at 1 July 2020. Around 180 000 apprentices and 90 000 small and medium-sized businesses that employ them will now be supported, with the programme extended by six months to March 2021.
The initiative covers 50% of the wages paid to apprentices and trainees, up to $7 000 per quarter.
MCA CEO Tania Constable said the JobTrainer package would complement existing initiatives such as the MCA-led mining skills organisation pilot, an industry-led initiative which is building responsive and flexible vocational education and training to deliver the skills and training needs of both the industry and the future minerals workforce.
The pilot will identify opportunities to retrain and reskill entrants in regional and remote Australia and from other industries affected by Covid-19, including new and innovative skill sets and qualifications linked to technology adoption in the modern mining sector.
The Australian mining industry is a long-standing global leader in the development and deployment of new technology and techniques, including data analytics, automation, robotics and artificial intelligence, leadership which will continue in the post-pandemic era.
The sector’s success, including A$200-billion in exports, is based on the dedication, commitment and skills of its operational workforce of 240 000, or about 2% of Australia’s total workforce.
Two-thirds of these jobs are located in regional and remote Australia and form part of the wider 1.1-million jobs, or one in 10 Australian jobs, supported by mining and the mining equipment, technology and services sector.