THE business sector has welcomed the federal government's $100 million pledge to encourage employers to take up apprentices this summer, as a report reveals a 20 per cent drop in new apprentices. The government last week launched the Apprentice Kickstart Program, which aims to support up to 21,000 young Australians entering traditional trades in the coming summer.The program will boost the amount of funds employers receive for taking on an apprentice, with the starting bonus increasing from $1,500 to $2,350 and employers to receive a further $2,500 at the nine-month mark. Employers will receive a total of $4,850 for each apprentice they hire. The Housing Industry Association welcomed the government's commitment. “While demand for apprenticeships has been affected by the downturn in building and construction the time to be investing in apprenticeships is precisely now so that we might soften the impact of skill shortages when the industry moves into recovery," it said in a statement.Masters Builders Australia also welcomed the federal government's move to provide an additional $20 million for pre-apprenticeship training.
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