Incentives For Mid-Career Apprentices

Older apprentices have a lot to offer. Sometimes a bit of help is all they need. Sue Kent from MEGT explains…

The diminishing talent pool is a trend that has been going on for years and many business owners worry how their skilled employees will cope once they get older. “Lots of people would love to work in the industry but feel they’re locked in to the jobs they did when they left school,” said Sue Kent, Manager of MEGT’s Group Training division. “They are potentially excellent workers. They’ve got the customer service skills. They are worldly wise. They understand the meaning of work ethic. But they’ve got kids at school and house mortgages and if they stop earning for even a short while so they can get a qualification their family suffers.” From 1 July 2007, workers who upgrade their skills mid-career will attract new financial incentives to support their move to an apprenticeship at the Certificate III or IV level.

Up to 10,000 people per year aged 30+ who are starting an apprenticeship will be eligible for the new incentives, as well as those already on one. The new incentive will either be paid to employers to subsidise wage costs or directly to the apprentice to boost their income. Under some current arrangements, if a worker becomes an apprentice the employer is required to maintain the existing wage. In other circumstances, employers might have to pay an adult apprenticeship rate where the worker is 21 years or more. These rules do not encourage employers to engage older apprentices or allow their workers to become apprentices. In such cases, the new mid-career incentive will be paid to employers to subsidise wage costs.

In other cases, a worker’s income can drop to the apprenticeship rate when they become an apprentice. In this case, the new mid-career incentive will be paid directly to the apprentice to boost their income. The amount payable to either the apprentice or the employer will be $150 per week ($7,800 per annum) in the first year and $100 per week ($5,200 pre annum) in the second year. As an apprentice becomes more skilled in the second year, their award wage will increase. The wage subsidy and apprentice payment can therefore be reduced.

“If employers are still worried about fluctuating workloads they should really be talking to Group Training Organisations like ours. We’ll provide both the business and the mature-age worker with a safety net,” explains Sue. “Hopefully the increase in skilled staff will convert into more jobs being completed and business growth. But if for some reason workload falls away, the apprentice is our employee and we simply relocate them with another host employer.”

For free advice and information contact MEGT on 1300 365 022 or the WorkChoices Infoline on 1300 363 264. Australian Apprenticeships is an Australian Government initiative.