Wauchope benefits from apprentice grants to fill skills shortage

Zak Irwin is head tradesman at Food Machines Australia in Wauchope.
Zak Irwin is head tradesman at Food Machines Australia in Wauchope.

The state government is subsidizing apprentices’ wages in rural and regional areas like Wauchope to try to fill the skills shortage gap.

Wauchope businessman, Rob Eddy says his flourishing food machinery business is benefiting from the scheme.  His company, Food Machines Australia has already expanded its operation at Production Drive in the industrial area, creating 20 new jobs.

Mr Eddy’s company is developing a market for exporting commercial food processing machines to the United States.

“We see a very strong demand and a high need for productivity and efficiency.  We are building a bigger factory,” he said.

“Our core business is heavy-duty, very large cooking equipment.  We need more trained, skilled people.  The US market is enormous for us.  We will focus on setting up a small production line to do this kind of work, and we have to invest in modern machinery, and we will need young, active minds who are enthusiastic to train and work on these sophisticated machines.

“We need fresh, motivated people to work on these brainy little machines.  We want young people to learn how to manufacture.  There’s very much a shortage in Australia right now.”

Lyne MP, Dr David Gillespie with Rob Eddy from Food Machines Australia in Production Drive in Wauchope with one of the sophisticated commercial food processing machines destined for America.

Lyne MP, Dr David Gillespie with Rob Eddy from Food Machines Australia in Production Drive in Wauchope with one of the sophisticated commercial food processing machines destined for America.

Lyne MP, Dr David Gillespie said there was a shortage of skilled tradesmen and tradeswomen, technical workers and apprentices all around Australia.

“We have been pushing out more and more university graduates, but we have let the ball drop in training our skilled, technical workforce,” said the Nationals politician.

Dr Gillespie said under the subsidy, eligible local employers will be able to receive payments based on the apprentice’s relevant award wage rates.

“Subsidies will be provided at 75 per cent of the apprentice’s award wage in the first year, followed with 50 per cent in the second year and 25 per cent in the third year,” Dr Gillespie said.

Food Machines Australia is expanding to a new factory beside this one in the industrial area of Wauchope.

Food Machines Australia is expanding to a new factory beside this one in the industrial area of Wauchope.

The governments hopes the $60-million investment to trial this wage subsidy will be a good incentive for employers in regional and rural communities to engage more apprentices.

From 1 January 2019, the new subsidy under the Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Program (AAIP), will support eligible new Australian apprentices in areas such as plumbing, mechanical, electrical, painting trades and hairdressing.

Dr Gillespie said a VET qualification was every bit as important to the economy as a university degree.The new wage subsidy will complement other incentives currently available through the AAIP and support the engagement of eligible new full-time apprentices at the Certificate III and IV levels in occupations on the National Skills Needs List in regional and rural communities.

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