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Help for rural workers.

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Media Contact Cath O’Connor (03) 5032 4510

Friday, 31 August 2007


The Nationals Federal Member for Mallee, John Forrest, said today apprentices studying agriculture and horticulture in the Mallee will benefit from a package of measures worth $47.7 million to help attract workers back into rural and regional Australia.

Mr Forrest welcomed the announcement by the Minister for Vocational and Further Education, the Hon Andrew Robb AO MP, that agricultural and horticultural apprentices will now be able to access the Tools For Your Trade initiative and the $1,000 Apprenticeship Training (Fee) Vouchers.

“Approximately 70,000 people previously working in agriculture have left the industry because of the drought,” Mr Forrest said.

“As the drought breaks these industries will be really crying out for people to get back into agriculture and horticulture, for people to work on farms, to handle livestock and grow crops.”

“These new incentives are particularly important for mending the effect of the drought on our local community. We need workers to come back to country Australia and we need to support our young people to stay in the country,” Mr Forrest said.

Agricultural and horticultural apprentices will now receive a tool kit worth up to $800 to help them get started in their new career. In addition, they will also be eligible for the $1,000 Apprenticeship Training (Fee) voucher, which reimburses apprentices or their employers the cost of their course fees up to $500 per year for the first two years of training.

“These initiatives recognise the importance of helping farmers and producers to meet the demand for their products, helping them to exploit the opportunities provided by new technology, and ensuring their growth well into the future,” Mr Forrest said.

A number of Australian Apprenticeships will be eligible, including beef and pig production, horse breeding, grain production, wool handling and classing, irrigation, landscaping, floriculture, arboriculture and production horticulture, to name a few.

This $47.7 million package is in addition to other assistance provided to rural and regional communities to assist with their skills shortages including the Rural and

John Forrest MP The Nationals Member for Mallee

Phone (03) 5032 4510 Fax (03) 5032 9407

Media Contact Cath O’Connor (03) 5032 4510

Regional Skills Shortages and Additional Declared Drought Areas employer incentives.

Employers of Australian Apprentices gain access to a free service from Australian Apprenticeships Centres who assist with sign-up, administration and information on available incentives and benefits.

The Australian Government is delivering a range of initiatives to tackle Australia’s skills shortage, and will increase the Government’s commitment to skills training to $2.9 billion a year.

Further information is available through the Australian Apprenticeships referral line on 13 38 73.