Printing Industries has welcomed the visit of the Federal Minister for Vocational and Further Education, the Hon Andrew Robb AO, to its national headquarters to announce a $57.5 million boost to apprentice incentives.

Printing Industries CEO Philip Andersen, said the Minister’s announcement and decision to make it at the association’s national office at Auburn, Sydney underscored the impact of the skills shortage on the printing and graphic communications industry and the association’s efforts to find both short and long term solutions.  

Apprentices working in the binding and finishing, printing machining, screen printing and signwriting sectors head the list of 17 trades that have been added to the 38 trades previously eligible to access a range of Australian Government apprenticeship incentives including:  

$2,000 Apprenticeship Wage Top-Up;
$1,000 Apprenticeship Training (FEE) Vouchers;
$800 Tool Kit;
$13,000 Wage Subsidy for Apprentices over 30 yrs;
$1,000 Commonwealth Trade Learning Scholarship; and
$1,000 Rural and Regional Skills Shortage Employer Incentives.  
Mr Andersen said that previously the industry’s apprentices had not been eligible for the incentives.  

“Employees in metropolitan and country areas will be eligible for the incentives backdated to 1 July 2007. Combined with direct assistance to apprentices, our industry members will now be in a far better position to attract apprentices at a time when the skills and labour shortages have been making this very difficult,” he said.

“Our industry is at the centre of the constantly changing communications sector and is quite unique in its needs and employment opportunities. Consequently we have already begun discussions with existing apprentices and technical training institutions to identify what should be approved for inclusion in their tool kits which will likely be more technology oriented rather than you would usually associate with ‘tradesperson’ tools.  

“We welcome and thank the Federal Government for its recognition of the difficulties faced by employers trying to attract young and not so young apprentices to an industry rapidly undergoing technology inspired change but often mistakenly portrayed as being a traditional industry rather than being technologically innovative. The Minister’s actions today are recognition of this and the need to improve skill sets in the industry.”  

Mr Andersen said the Minister’s announcement comes on top of Printing Industries’ work with the Institute of Trade Skills Excellence Manufacturing Reference Group into developing a star rating for Registered Training Organisations and its involvement with the industry skills council to promote the training package.   

“We have a pilot work skills project underway to trial and identify new training solutions that can meet employers’ skill needs and provide new skill sets for employees. Earlier this year we produced a promotional film Imagine: A World Without Print? showcasing young people working in the industry.  

“We are also preparing a proposal for the Federal Government that will help to ‘bridge the gap’ of skilled worker availability and engage people currently not in the workforce, such as mothers and people with disabilities,” he said.  

In addition to the printing industry based apprenticeships, the government’s announcement also covered Aircraft Maintenance Engineers, Butchers, Flat Glass Trades, Furniture Finishers, Locksmiths, Optical Mechanics, Painters and Decorators, Picture Framers, Shearers, Tree Surgeons, Vehicle Trimmers and Wood Machinists. 

Printing Industries Association of Australia

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