More apprentices and trainees will be able to access interest-free and income-contingent loans to help them meet daily living costs while completing their training, with the program expanded to include non-trade apprenticeships for the very first time.
The Albanese Labor Government’s expansion of the Trade Support Loans Act 2014 means approximately 35,000 additional apprentices in areas of skills shortage will become eligible for important cost-of-living support.
With critical skills shortages in vital sectors like early childhood education, aged care and disability care, it’s never been more important to support priority apprentices and trainees to complete their studies.
Trade Support Loans – now called Australian Apprentice Support Loans – are paid monthly in arrears directly to the apprentice or trainee while they study, with a lifetime maximum of $24,492.
Apprentices and trainees receive a 20% discount on their total loans when they complete their training.
Since July 2014, these loans have helped over 167,000 apprentices in trade occupations pay for everyday expenses while they undertake an apprenticeship.
However, the eligibility for these loans is outdated, and has not been updated since 2014. The new Australian Apprenticeship Priority List will ensure that eligibility for loans is determined based on evidence from Jobs and Skills Australia, and reflects up-to-date skills shortages.
By extending to non-trade qualifications for the first time, it will particularly benefit women, who make up the majority of non-trade apprentices.
Women apprentices in training represent 30 percent (113,495) of the apprenticeship workforce, with most (76%) of women apprenticeships or traineeships in occupations such as care occupations, early childhood education, retail, administration, and hospitality.
Using the proposed Australian Apprenticeship Priority List methodology as a guide over 50 occupations would newly qualify, when compared to the existing Trade Support Loan Priority List.
Apprentices in priority trade occupations will continue to be supported with the extension to the new Priority List including occupations such as building inspector, metal polisher, and civil engineering technician.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O’Connor
“Too many apprentices don’t finish their training, many due to financial hardship. These changes inject cost of living relief so more people can access immediate financial support to help them complete their apprenticeship or traineeship.
“The expanded Australian Apprentice Support Loans will also help to address the gender pay gap, by making more loans available to women apprentices and trainees.
“Instead of students dropping out, these loans will help them complete their course. This will help to address skills shortages and deliver skilled workers for a stronger economy.”
Media contact: Minister O’Connor’s Office (Ben Ansell): 0477 284 411