Under the plan, the Federal Government will establish a new ongoing $1.5bn Skilling Australians Fund that will create up to an extra 300,000 apprentices over the next four years.
The Fund will deliver the skilled workforce Australian employers need to fill skills gaps and enable their businesses to grow.
“We will give Australians the best opportunity to fill Australian jobs, rather than relying on overseas qualified workers,” Morrison announced, adding that until now, employers have had to contribute 1 or 2% of their payroll to training if they employ foreign workers – requirements he said have “proven difficult to police”.
“Accordingly, we are replacing these requirements with an annual foreign worker levy of $1,200 or $1,800 per worker per year on temporary work visas and a $3,000 or $5,000 one-off levy for those on a permanent skilled visa,” Morrison said.
Over the next four years, Morrison said $1.2bn will be raised from this levy that will contribute directly to a new Commonwealth-State Skilling Australians Fund.
However, in a push to ensure return on investment, States and Territories will only be able to draw on this fund when they deliver on their commitments to train new apprentices.
Morrison also outlined a new $60m Industry Specialist Mentoring Program which will provide extra support for around 47,000 apprentices.
“Apprentices and trainees working in industries undergoing structural changes, such as the South Australian and Victorian automotive sectors, will get access to highly skilled specialist mentors with industry expertise,” he said.
“That intensive mentoring, targeted at but not limited to apprentices from regional areas, retrenched workers, long-term unemployed and mature-age people, will increase completion rates and support the supply of skilled workers into the economy.”
Morrison said the ongoing Skilling Australians Fund will be “a new approach”, providing long-term certainty of funding and requiring states to match funding to support apprenticeships.
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Last night, Australia’s Federal Treasurer, Scott Morrison, unveiled the long awaited 2017 Federal Budget which included a massive investment in skills training.