Wednesday 25 June 2008
Estimates Committee B

1.3  Innovation support
Apprentices and trainees
Mr FINCH - Minister, I think we would all agree that this workplace participation program is vital but I am interested in the notes on page 2.4 about providing incentives for businesses to take on more apprentices and trainees.  What incentives will this program provide that are not already there?

Mr McILFATRICK - The current incentive for taking on is a Commonwealth incentive so that will remain - Newstart allowance, all of those things.  Our State Government incentive has been a payroll tax deduction for trainees and apprentices if you have an apprentice.  We are withdrawing that because that only applies to maybe the top 5 per cent of Tasmanian companies and applying them, centred directly, at the front end.

So we envisage that, potentially, there might be up to $7 000 available for targeted areas for taking on an apprentice or trainee, and people will be eligible for that across industry sectors, whether they were small or large business but target it to those more disadvantaged groups that may need some special assistance to get into the work force.

Mr FINCH - So that $7 000, when you say payroll tax, would that be over the first year or the duration of the apprenticeship?

Mr McILFATRICK - Probably in that first year; that is the biggest cost to the business and the biggest hurdle to get into the work force.  We have not yet designed it perfectly but that is the idea.

Mr FINCH - Are there are other ideas and other incentives that might be available to businesses?

Ms WRIEDT - As we said, we have not finalised the detail of it yet so we will do that in the coming months; we have a fairly open view on it at the moment.  But the aim is to make it much broader than the previous program because the former Tasmanian trainee and apprentice incentive scheme that operated - it was announced in last year's Budget - would be ceased and replaced with something else.  The reason for that was it was only accessible to those businesses in the State that paid payroll tax so 95 per cent of the businesses, and particularly the smaller ones who would have more barriers in terms of putting on additional staff, were not able to access anything under that program.  So we were not catering for mainstream Tasmanian businesses.

This new program will be available for businesses of all sizes.