Australia designates boatbuilding ‘national priority’ apprenticeship

Marine craft construction a national priority © Boating Industry Association

Australia’s federal government has reinstated both the trade boatbuilder and shipwright, to the Australian apprenticeship priority list. It’s looking to promote numbers in key jobs and tackle skills shortages nationwide.

Nineteen more roles, including boatbuilding, have been added to the list. The country’s national priority apprenticeships now has a list of 130 occupations.

Boating Industry Association (BIA), the Australian marine trade body, lobbied for the change throughout 2023 during a series of direct engagements with the Federal Departments of Employment and Workplace Relations and Jobs and Skills.

BIA says it acknowledges and applauds those industry members who responded to its value and demand survey, which provided valuable current data. That was used to press for the inclusion of the trades on the priority list.

Inclusion means employers have access to federal funding via a wage subsidy to support new apprentices signed up from 1 January 2024.

An eligible full-time apprentice may receive up to A$10,000 throughout their apprenticeship to help with cost-of-living pressures, while an employer may receive support of up to A$15,000 over the duration of the apprenticeship.

These payments are aimed at encouraging apprentices and trainees to pursue work in areas of skills shortage, complete their training, and go on to have successful long-term careers.

In May 2023, traditional wooden boat building was added to the ‘endangered’ list of crafts as part of an ongoing project to track traditional craft skills on the verge of extinction in the UK. Endangered trades, like traditional wooden boat building, are classed as those which currently have sufficient craftspeople to transmit the craft skills to the next generation, but for which there are serious concerns about their ongoing viability. This may include crafts with a shrinking market share, an ageing demographic or crafts with a declining number of practitioners.

The Australian apprenticeship priority list will be used by the Australian Apprenticeships Incentive System, to provide additional financial support to apprentices, trainees and their employers to boost apprentice numbers and support completions in priority occupations.

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