The Western Australian Government has announced a $24.5 million support package for workers in the building and construction industry to assist them through the COVID-19 pandemic.
The package, which will provide immediate relief to construction apprentices and trainees, and their employers, aims to maintain a skilled workforce throughout the crisis.
The package includes $10 million to provide an immediate, one-off payment of $2,000 to employers of existing apprentices and trainees currently receiving Construction Training Fund (CTF) grant payments.
A new grants scheme worth $9.5 million will be introduced to assist employers to retain their existing apprentices, with payments beginning from 1 June 2020 and backdated from 1 April 2020.
The payments will range from $250 per month to $500 per month per apprentice or trainee, depending on the trades facing the most critical skills shortages in the industry.
This will supplement CTF’s existing grants scheme for a period of six months, with a review after three months to gauge the effectiveness of the temporary model.
Employers currently receiving CTF grants for apprentices and trainees in employment will be eligible for the new grant scheme and will need to provide evidence of the apprentice’s employment, such as a current payslip.
Apprentices and trainees employed in the industry can claim up to $1,000 to support the costs of undertaking short courses to assist them in upskilling.
WA Premier, Mark McGowan, said the construction industry plays an important role in Western Australia and employs thousands of people across a range of trades.
“It’s important we look after our local businesses, apprentices and trainees – this funding will go towards making sure jobs are maintained and our construction workforce is ready to assist with the post COVID-19 economic recovery,” Mr McGowan said.
WA Training Minister, Sue Ellery, said, “If you’re an apprentice in the construction industry looking to upskill – now is the time to take the opportunity to claim back up to $1,000 when you undertake a short course.”
Chair of the Building and Construction Industry Training Board, Reg Howard-Smith, said the support package would ensure industry was “well positioned” with a skilled workforce to meet the demands of a post COVID-19 recovery.
“CTF’s goal has always been to increase the number of skilled workers on WA building and construction sites, and it is now more important than ever to ensure the industry and its highly trained workers succeed,” Mr Howard-Smith said.
Source: Infrastructure Magazine