Premier Mark McGowan has announced a range of immediate initiatives to support Western Australia’s skilled worker needs and confirmed the rescheduled Skills Summit will take place on Friday, July 30.
The event was postponed late last month due to WA’s four-day circuit breaker COVD-19 lockdown.
In order to begin addressing the immediate needs of Western Australian businesses, a number of key measures will be implemented now.
The new $5.2 million Jobs and Skills WA Adult Apprentice Employer Incentive (AAEI), will provide eligible businesses with up to $26,800 when they hire a mature age apprentice.
This will assist with growing WA’s skilled local workforce – maximising job opportunities for mature age apprentices, who are often overlooked by employers due to the higher cost of adult wages.
The successful Apprenticeship and Traineeship Re-engagement Incentive will also be extended for a further 12 months, with an additional $4 million investment.
Since the program started in July 2020, more than 1,600 apprentices and trainees have been re-engaged and given the opportunity to complete their training.
There are currently 300 out-of-contract apprentices and trainees seeking a new employer across a range of industries.
The State Government has expanded the State Nominated Migration Program (SNMP) to provide a skilled migration pathway for temporary visa holders already in Australia.
The SNMP is a Commonwealth skilled migration program that allows States and Territories to attract temporary visa holders into occupations where there are vacancies not being met by local workers.
With thousands of skilled temporary visa holders already in Australia, the Federal Government has approved the State Government’s request to expand the program to focus on these skilled migrants residing in WA and other states as a priority.
An additional 134 occupations have been added to the WA Skilled Migration Occupation List from high demand industries.
This will provide industry with immediate access to skilled workers where skilled local workers are not available to take up jobs.
A new partnership between Tourism WA and training council FutureNow will develop career programs for high-school students to highlight the vibrant career opportunities in tourism and hospitality.
It will include interactive demonstrations at the Skills West Careers Expo and a ‘chef ambassador’ program targeting students and teachers looking to upskill.
The State Government has also frozen rent increases for Government Regional Officer Housing (GROH) in 2021-22, assisting regional towns to continue to attract and retain public sector workers such as police and teachers.
These measures are based on consultation with peak bodies, industry associations, industry training councils, WA unions and government agencies.
They will deliver immediate solutions for WA businesses’ skilled worker needs – with further short and long term actions to be identified at the rescheduled Skills Summit.
As stated by Premier Mark McGowan:
“Western Australia’s world-leading response to COVID-19 has helped deliver the lowest unemployment rate in the country and some of the strongest economic indicators in the world.
“The WA economy is booming. This resilience amid a once-in-a-century pandemic is indicative of the underlying strength of our economy and the importance of our continued positive collaboration with the business sector.
“This strong economic position is however putting significant pressures on the availability of skilled workers in WA.
“We look forward to convening with business leaders and other stakeholders at the rescheduled Skills Summit later this month – but in the interim we are putting in place a number of key, immediate measures to assist.
“This suite of initiatives builds further on the considerable work we have undertaken since 2017 to repair and revitalise the TAFE sector – including slashing TAFE fees, upgrading TAFE campuses and introducing free short courses.
“This has delivered strong results, with enrolments ‘Lower Fees, Local Skills’ courses up 27 per cent this year.
“We look forward to joining business leaders later this month at the rescheduled Skills Summit to develop further initiatives to support our workforce needs and the economy.”