Target set for apprentices

A LOFTY target of “50 jobs in 50 weeks” by 30 June 2013 has been set by Regional Development Victoria under the State Government’s new Gippsland Apprentices Program.

Under the highly-anticipated program, launched on Friday, employers of local apprentices who have completed part of their training but have lost their jobs will receive a $4000 incentive to help with the cost of hiring and training each apprentice.

“We are contacting employers from trades and industries across the Latrobe Valley, inviting them to get involved in the program,” a document from RDV said.

“Over the next 12 months to June 2013, we aim to place 50 apprentices in jobs that allow them to complete their qualifications.”

The Department of Planning and Community Development, RDV’s departmental body, could not comment on Friday, other than to confirm the program had been launched.

This comes on the back of a recent announcement by group training organisation Apprenticeships Group Australia it had suspended a number of its apprentices who had been unplaced given the unfavourable local building and construction industry conditions.

AGA managing director Mark Knox said he believed the target set by RDV was “feasible and achievable”.

“We are also prepared to offer a guarantee any money received (by us as the apprentices’ employers) will be distributed to the host employee network,” Mr Knox said.

“The money has been allocated to stimulate apprentice placement, and we don’t want one cent of the money; we will pass it on.”

Mr Knox was hopeful the $300,000 incentive under the Regional Growth Fund would serve as a catalyst and stimulant to apprentice placement activity.

‘I think there will be some impact,” he said, adding AGA hoped to be “heavily involved in the process”.

“We would like apprentices who have been stood down to be candidates, and we’ll be working aggressively to make sure this happens.”

State Member for Morwell Russell Northe said he was pleased the program was now active.

“We believe the program will be effective in making sure apprentices find host employers,” Mr Northe said, adding the program had not been developed in isolation but in consultation with all stakeholders.

He said employers located in the municipalities of Baw Baw, Latrobe and Wellington would be eligible to apply for the incentive.

According to the brief on the Gippsland Apprentices Program, employers able to offer a trade apprenticeship which allowed an apprentice to complete their qualification could submit expressions of interest.

It said the incentive bonus would be paid in two instalments; the first $1000 would be received at the end of three months’ probation and the balance of $3000 at the end of six months’ continuous employment.

Individual apprentices would not receive the funds, but will be paid normal apprenticeship wages as they completed their training.

More information on the Gippsland Apprentices Program is available on