Around 70,000 new apprenticeship placements are set to be generated after the Commonwealth Government announced a $1.2 billion expansion of an apprenticeship subsidy scheme.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Minister of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business Michaela Cash have announced that the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements wage subsidy program will shift to becoming demand driven and will be expanded for a full twelve months for new apprentices and trainee places.

Under the program, employers or group training organisations who engage apprentices can receive subsidies of up to 50 percent of wages which are paid to new or recommencing apprentices or trainees up to a maximum of $7,000 per quarter for the first twelve months after the trainee or apprentice commences.

To be eligible, employers will need to engage apprentices who will need to commence before September 30 2021.

The expansion is expected to cost around $1.2 billion and to expand the number of apprenticeships on offer under the scheme by around 70,000.

The expansion comes as the government announced that the original program had been fully subscribed and has generated 100,000 traineeship places since being announced in October.

The initiative is one of several which the government is pursing as part of $4 billion in apprentice wage subsidies as part of its COVID economic recovery plan.

Other initiatives include the $1 billion JobTrainer Fund which will provide around 300,000 free or low-fee training places in areas of identified skills need, establishment of the National Skills Commission which  harnesses contemporary data with labour market analysis to forecast the skills needs of the economy and inform the qualifications and skills Australians need to train for and funding for the National Careers Institute which provides future apprentices, trainees and Australians looking to reskill or upskill with the information and support they need to take the next step in their career.

Cash welcomed the announcement.

“This initiative has supported the creation of more than 8,000 bricklayers, 6,000 electricians, and almost 11,000 people in retail and hospitality work,” she said.

“I’m so pleased that we’ve helped create 100,000 new registered apprentice and trainee places so far and we intend to help even more people get the chance to upskill or reskill.”

Building industry lobby groups welcomed the expansion.

“The $1.2 billion extension of the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements (BAC) scheme is will also be a boost for economic recovery,” Denita Wawn, CEO of Master Builders Australia said.

“Governments around the country are harnessing the building and construction industry’s huge economic multiplier effect to accelerate the build to economic recovery. The extension of BAC will give employers confidence to take on new apprentices and trainees to help meet future demand for skills.”