CANBERRA, July 16 (Xinhua) -- The Australian government has announced a multi-billion dollar scheme to give people looking for work access to new skills by retraining and upskilling them into growth sectors as the economy recovers from COVID-19.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday announced the 2 billion Australian dollars (1.4 billion U.S. dollar) "JobTrainer" skills package.
Under the scheme, 1.5 billion Australia dollars (1.05 billion U.S. dollars) will be spent to expand the wage incentive to help keep apprentices in work.
Around 180,000 apprentices and 90,000 small and medium businesses that employ them will now be supported, with the program extended by six months to March 2021, according to the media release from the prime minister.
The remaining 500 million Australian dollars (350.1 million U.S. dollars) will fund retraining and reskilling courses for about 340,000 training places to help school leavers and job seekers develop new skills in growth sectors and create a pathway to more qualifications.
"JobTrainer will ensure more Australians have the chance to reskill or upskill to fill the jobs on the other side of this crisis," Morrison said on Thursday.
"The jobs and skills we'll need as we come out of the crisis are not likely to be the same as those that were lost."
The package is the first element of wider economic stimulus measures expected to be announced by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg when he delivers an economic update on July 23.
"Our nation has faced many challenges, and it is critical that we keep our apprentices in jobs and help those looking for work," Michaelia Cash, minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, said.
"This package will be essential as the economy rebuilds so that people looking for work can reskill and upskill for in-demand jobs, provide school leavers with a pathway into their careers, and ensure businesses are able to get the skilled workers they need."
Cash also said the National Skills Commission would play a critical role in identifying current and future skills needed in a challenging and changing labour market.