WA prioritises skilled workers with Summit and incentives

High Court

The Western Australian Government has rescheduled its Skills Summit for late-July, when state leaders will gather to discuss upskilling in numerous sectors including resources and construction.

Premier Mark McGowan foreshadowed a number of initiatives would be announced at the Summit on July 30, which was postponed in June due to COVID-19 lockdowns.

“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,” McGowan said.

A statement in May from McGowan and Minister for Education and Training Sue Ellery elaborated on the purpose of the Summit

“The aim of the summit is to hear from some of WA’s business leaders on what more can be done collaboratively, and more immediately, to address existing skills needs across sectors…” they said.

In the lead up to the Summit, McGowan announced a number of initiatives to encourage apprentices and skilled workers in Western Australia.

A $5.2 million Adult Apprentice Employer Incentive (AAEI) program will hand up to $26,800 to businesses who hire a mature-age apprentice.

Additionally, the Apprenticeship and Traineeship Re-engagement Incentive has been extended for another year, adding $4 million to the state’s investment in upskilling and reskilling its workforce.

The latter incentive began in July 2020 and has provided 1600 apprentices and trainees with an opportunity to complete training they had previously left behind.

Western Australia’s State Nominated Migration Program (SNMP) has also been expanded to include a pathway for temporary visa holders who are already in the country, allowing them to fill vacancies left unattended by local workers.

McGowan commented on the initiatives, saying the state’s economy deserved the attention.

“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,” he said.

“This strong economic position is however putting significant pressures on the availability of skilled workers in WA.”

The announcement came as the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) reported Australia had a 141.5 per cent jump in apprenticeship and trainee commencements for the December quarter in 2020, compared to the December quarter of 2019.

Such a high had not been seen for five years, a figure highly attributable to the Australian Government’s Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements wage subsidy.

Western Australia had 32,300 in training at the end of 2020, up 18.7 per cent on December 2019.

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