Business guide to Coronavirus

Wage subsidy for apprentices and trainees

Last updated: 11 March 2021

Businesses are under pressure to remain viable as the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact operations, impacting cash flow and their ability to keep employees in work, including apprentices and trainees. 

Latest updates

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Federal Employment Minister Michaelia Cash recently announced an expansion of the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements wage subsidy initiative.

Employers across the country will be given at least $1.2 billion to hire 70,000 apprentices in an uncapped job-creation plan the Federal Government hopes will avoid a youth unemployment crisis from the coronavirus pandemic. As many as 100,000 apprentices have been employed through the existing wage subsidy scheme to date. 

Minister Cash said the extension would mean any business that signed up a new apprentice between now and September 30 2021 would get a full 12 months of the subsidy.

This assistance will support new apprentices and trainees across Australia and is in addition to the Supporting Apprentices and Trainees wage subsidy which has helped small and medium businesses keep their apprentices and trainees in work and training.

Is my business eligible? 

Your business or Group Training Organisation (GTO) may be eligible if:

  • You engage an Australian Apprentice or trainee between 5 October 2020 and 30 September 2021.
  • Your Australian Apprentice or trainee is undertaking a Certificate II or higher qualification and has a training contract that is formally approved by the State Training Authority. 

How much is the subsidy?

  • Eligible employers and GTOs will receive a wage subsidy of up to 50% of the Australian Apprentice’s gross wage paid between 5 October 2020 and 30 September 2021. 
  • The wage subsidy is available for a maximum of $7,000 per quarter, per eligible Australian Apprentice, for wages paid in the 12-month period from the date of commencement or recommencement. 

Apprenticeship Support Australia

The Apprenticeship Support Australia team offer free over the phone advice and online tools to help you find, register, onboard and manage an apprentice or trainee in your business.

Previous updates 

The Federal Government has announced financial support for small to medium-sized businesses to improve business confidence. The wage subsidy will help continue development of the skilled workforce.  

The government anticipates the wage subsidy for apprentices and trainees will support up to 70,000 small businesses, employing around 117,000 apprentices and cost $1.3 billion across 2019-20 and 2020-21.  

Wage subsidy for apprentices and trainees 

The wage subsidy is to support small business to retain their apprentices and trainees. Employers that meet the eligibility criteria can apply for a wage subsidy of 50% of the apprentice or trainee’s wage, paid during the 9 months from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020.  

Employers will receive a reimbursement per eligible apprentice or trainee up to a maximum of $21,000 ($7,000 per quarter). If a business is not able to retain an apprentice or trainee, the wage subsidy will be available to a new employer. 

Alternatively, any displaced apprentices or trainees will be supported to find re-employment through The National Apprentice Employment Network using their network of host employers across Australia. 

Let’s look at an example for Star Hairdressing 

Star Hairdressing is a small business that employs 7 people, including two full-time Australian apprentices.  

Joe is a first-year Australian apprentice, aged 22, undertaking a Certificate III qualification. He commenced his apprenticeship with Star Hairdressing on 10 February 2020. Joe receives a weekly wage of $532.89.  

Amelia is a third-year Australian apprentice, aged 29, undertaking a Certificate IV qualification. She commenced her apprenticeship with Star Hairdressing on 20 November 2017. She receives a weekly wage of $772.71.  

An eligible apprentice or trainee employer will receive 50% of the apprentices’ wages that have been paid by the employer since 1 January 2020. 

Star Hairdressing will receive:  

  • $9,059 subsidy for employing Joe for 10 February 2020 to 30 September 2020, and 
  • $15,068 subsidy for employing Amelia for 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020. 

Further resources 

Apprenticeship and trainee wage subsidy information is available at: 

Siobhann Provost

Senior Writer, Business Australia

Siobhann has over 18 years human resources business partnering experience in large organisations. She more recently established and led a people advice team of senior workplace advisors before moving into content writing.

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