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Tuesday, 21 June 2011
Page: 6818

Agricultural and Horticultural Apprenticeships

(Question No. 375)

Mr John Cobb asked the Minister representing the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations, in writing, on 23 May 2011:

Why are agricultural and horticultural apprenticeships excluded from the government’s commitment to increase support for trade apprentices in critical trades, despite the severe skills shortage in agriculture caused by the drain of skills workers to the mining sector.

Mr Crean: The Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:

The Gillard Government is committed to building Australia’s future workforce. As part of this commitment, the tax exempt Tools for Your Trade payments available to eligible apprentices were increased from 1 January 2011 to provide up to $5,500 per apprentice over the duration of their apprenticeship.

The Tools for Your Trade payments are available to eligible Australian Apprentices in critical or skills shortage occupations, including shearing, tree surgery and landscape gardening. These payments have also been extended to other Certificate II, III and IV Australian Apprenticeships in an agricultural occupation, and if in rural and regional Australia, a horticultural occupation.

In addition to commencement and completion incentives totalling up to $4,000, employers of agricultural and horticultural Australian Apprentices in skills shortage occupations may be eligible to receive a special rural and regional commencement incentive of $1,000.

Employers of eligible Certificate II Australian Apprentices in declared drought areas may also receive special drought area incentives totalling up to $3,000.