Federal Budget 2021/2022: Boosting Workforce Skills

By Ron Maxwell - CEO

In the wake of COVID-19, this year’s Budget was always going to be a difficult one to deliver, and it’s no surprise that we will continue to be in a deficit for some time to come. Despite tough economic circumstances, I was pleased to see the Government committing $6.4 billion to upskill and reskill Australia’s workforce.

At VERTO, we see first-hand how COVID-driven initiatives, like Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements, have had an immediate, positive impact on employment. I believe the measures in the Budget are a further step in the right direction.

JobTrainer investment may alleviate challenges

While the unemployment rate has dropped sharply since its mid-pandemic high of 7.4 per cent, Australia still faces a number of workforce challenges. Prior to COVID-19, our industries were already experiencing a time of unprecedented disruption. The rate of technological change, the call for increased sustainability, and changing social dynamics were all impacting how, when, and where we work.

As the pandemic recedes, these challenges remain; many of them heightened and accelerated by the events of the last fifteen months. For many Australians, this is creating a need to upskill in order to stay in their existing industries or reskill to transition to a new career.

In 2020, the Federal Government commenced its JobTrainer Fund, which helps job seekers and young people access funding to undertake training and certification for in-demand industries, such as healthcare, IT and trades. This year’s Budget sees an additional $500 million allocated to the JobTrainer Fund, which will help another 163,000 Australians to complete training in these industries.

Investing in these areas will help thousands of Australians of all ages start or change careers, or even re-enter the workforce after a period of unemployment. It will also boost some of our key industries and help to stave off skill shortages.

A much-needed boost for apprenticeships

It’s no secret that we are facing skill shortages in a number of our traditional trade industries, including carpentry and plumbing. And this is a huge concern for many reasons. As we continue to recover from not only COVID-19, but devastating bushfires and floods, our apprentices will be the ones who are, quite literally, rebuilding Australia.

I welcomed the announcement of an additional $2.7 billion in funding for the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements (BAC) initiative. This funding will help to create more than 170,000 new apprenticeship opportunities over the next eight months. The BAC offers significant subsidies of up to 50 per cent of apprenticeship wages to help employers take on new apprentices. At VERTO, we saw first-hand how the initial BAC funding supported many local businesses and industries, and we have high hopes for this next round of funding.

The Budget also announced a new pathway service to help more than 5,000 women undertake non-traditional apprenticeships. I’ve talked before about how and why we need to encourage more women into apprenticeships – and it’s great to see the Government also recognising the importance of gender diversity in these industries.

Support for health and aged care sectors

At the height of the pandemic, most of us became very aware of the critical role our care workers play. From supporting the vulnerable in our communities through in-home care, to care in hospitals and aged care facilities, our nurses and care workers really are our frontline.

But many of our community and healthcare industries are facing dire skill shortages. In aged care alone, it’s estimated that there will be a ratio of just one aged care worker for every 400 patients in the next few years. Many health and community services industries were staving off shortages with migrant workers, but with incoming arrivals so heavily restricted until at least 2022, this is no longer an option.

This year’s Budget includes funding for an additional 33,800 training places to enable existing and new care workers to increase their qualifications to meet demand, as well as an additional $216.7 million in funding to encourage registered nurses to move into aged care.

An investment in our future

Today’s apprentices and trainees are tomorrow’s experts. An investment in apprenticeships and training is a vital investment in our future.

Whether you are a job seeker, an employer, or someone looking to transition careers, VERTO can help you explore your options and the subsidies and support available to you. Get in touch today on 1300 4 VERTO (1300 483 786 ) or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to get started.