Apprenticeships roared back into favour during the 2020-21 financial year across Australia and especially in WA, new data shows. Nationally, nearly 215,000 people started an apprenticeship in the 12 months to June 2021, up 59.5 per cent on the previous year.
The latest data, from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research, showed Western Australia led the charge, adding 26,660 new starters, up a whopping 81 per cent on the 2019-20 year.
Overall, more than 341,000 apprentices and trainees were in training at June 30 across Australia, an increase of 27.5 per cent.
WA had 38,400 people in training, up 36 per cent, 22,745 of whom were learning a trade and 9715 of whom were in a non-trade area.
Importantly, apprenticeship completions also rose across the country in the year to June 2021, with WA’s increase of 21.2 per cent (2110 completions) virtually matching the national average of 21.1 per cent (17,795 completions).
Associate Director Industry Skills Lena Constantine, who oversees Apprenticeship Support Australia WA, said the State was performing at a really strong level and the Federal Government’s Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements (BAC) wage subsidy was paying dividends.
“WA employers have really been able to take advantage of the BAC wage subsidy owing to the State’s limited lockdowns and the need to skill up local workers to meet the increased workforce demand and pressure from closed borders,” Constantine said.
“It’s a great example of a government program working properly by encouraging people to gain new skills to help grow the economy, and employers deserve credit for making so many places available in these difficult COVID-19 times.”
The BAC is available to any business that engages an Australian apprentice between October 5, 2020, and March 31, 2022, and offers a subsidy of 50 per cent of apprentices’ gross wages paid up to a maximum of $7000 per quarter, per eligible apprentice, for wages paid in the 12-month period from the date they start.
These employers are also eligible to access a 10 per cent wage subsidy in the second year, and a 5 per cent wage subsidy in the third, through the complementary Completing Apprenticeships Commencements program.