Australian apprentices will be provided with government support to take up a trade and complete their training with the introduction of Trade Support Loans.
Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane said the legislation for Trade Support Loans has been passed by the Parliament, allowing loans of up to $20,000 over the four years of an apprenticeship.
"The government is determined to build the skilled workforce of the future to enhance our productivity and our international competiveness and Trade Support Loans are an essential part of the government's Economic Action Strategy," Macfarlane said.
Easing financial pressure
"These loans will ease the financial pressures on apprentices and help them complete their training and move into paid jobs.
"We want to encourage young Australians to undertake apprenticeships, and most importantly to complete their training. All too often apprentices don't finish their training because they can't afford the costs.
"Trade Support Loans will help apprentices with the cost of living during their training and provide them with the support they need while acquiring the skills to move into jobs.
"Access to the loans is spread over four years of an apprenticeship, with most of the loan amount accessible in the first couple of years, because we know from feedback that this is when costs are the highest, and when access to a helping hand would be of most use in keeping young apprentices in training.
"Trade Support Loans are flexible and are designed to support apprentices in their individual circumstances. Eligible apprentices can opt-in and opt-out of the programme as their needs change and may choose to borrow a few thousand dollars for work gear or equipment, save up the payments to buy a second-hand car, or use the full amount to cover living expenses during their training."
Under Trade Support Loans apprentices can access $8,000 in their first year, $6,000 in the second, $4,000 in the third and $2,000 in the fourth year.
Eligible apprentices may choose to take up the full amount or just part of it, depending on their needs.
Like HELP loans for tertiary students, the loans will be repayable once apprentices are earning a sustainable income. The loans are interest free but will be indexed once a year in line with CPI. When apprentices complete their training they are eligible for a discount of 20 per cent on the loan amount, worth up to $4,000.
Trade Support Loans will specifically target occupations on the 'National Skills Needs List' such as plumbers, diesel mechanics, electricians and fitters, as well as priority areas in horticulture and agriculture.