The federal government's decision to extend its $57.5 million Apprentice Kickstart Initiative has been applauded by associations such as the Housing Industry Association (HIA) and Master Builders Australia (MBA).
The Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research Chris Bowen announced on March 8 that a two-month extension will mean that employes in the building, construction and engineering trades now have until the end of April to benefit from an extra incentive payment for taking on a new apprentice.
"The two-month extension is good for employers, good for young people seeking apprenticeships, and good for job seekers as it will help to stimulate employment in the building, construction and engineering industries," Mr Bowen said.
"We need to start training more people in the construction trades now to meet the expected upturn in the housing sector, including plumbers, electricians, carpenters, toolmakers, metal fabricators, fitters and turners."
HIA chief executive industry policy and media Graham Wolfe said that widening the skills base in the residential building industry is "essential".
Mr Wolfe says that with the initiative going over the traditional slow periods for the industry of Christmas and New Year, Kickstart has "undoubtedly pushed" many employers to hire an apprentice when they otherwise might not have done so.
MBA chief executive officer Wilhelm Harnisch is calling on building and construction employers to make the most of the extension.
"The extension of the Kickstart bonus is a well-targeted incentive for prospective employers to commit to taking on a new apprentice, particularly in the current difficult industry conditions," Mr Harnisch said.
"It is estimated that 35,000 new entrants will be required each year over the next ten years for the industry to keep up with demand. Kickstart provides a welcome shot in the arm for the industry as it continues its efforts training skilled tradespeople."