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Crucial support needed to rescue apprentices

The state’s peak business organisation, Business NSW, has called for immediate government intervention to rescue work opportunities for more than 50,000 young people across the country, and around 1,800 in the Illawarra and South East.

The call for action is in response to the report Skilling Australia for a better future: Supporting apprenticeships through COVID-19, produced by Business NSW on the impact of the pandemic on apprenticeships.

“We knew that apprentices were doing it tough, but we hadn’t realised how tough,” said Executive Director of the Capital Far South Coast Region Adam Zarth.

“These findings show that the number of apprentices commencing in 2020 will be more than 30 percent lower than in 2019,” Mr Zarth said.

“That’s around 1,800 predominately young people missing out on the opportunity to upskill, reskill and get a job here in the Illawarra and South East region alone.”

“Without significant intervention, the number of apprentices in training in 2021 will fall to levels not seen since 1998 and are unlikely to recover until 2025, even if the economy is on the path to recovery.”

“Given the scale of the impact, Government must act now to make any inroads into turning the trend around, including by providing employers with a significant subsidy for new starter apprentice wages.”

“The highly-effective Supporting Apprentices and Trainees subsidy needs to continue past its 30 September expiry date and be phased out over the next year.”

“Young people also need access to an industry-supported pre-apprenticeship program to help them prepare for the workforce, and ongoing support for Group Training Organisations is also crucial to support both apprentices and their employers.”

“COVID-19 has had a huge impact on businesses, with many still willing but incapable of providing training opportunities.”

“Taking action now will help the current and future generations of young people gain the skills they need to avoid a life on welfare. We can’t leave it five years before doing anything. By then, it will be far too late,” Mr Zarth said.

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