Unpacking COVID-19 Apprenticeship Schemes

Last updated at: 2020-10-15

During 2020 we have seen a decline in employment across most industries globally, brought on by COVID-19. Reduction of employment and training levels are mostly due to lockdown restrictions, the decline in necessity and accessibility. There has been a large shift of where, when, and how we can learn the skills of our desired trade.

In a bid to jumpstart the economy and workforce post the first wave of COVID-19, the Australian and New Zealand governments have proposed economic schemes to support those who are looking to re-train or upskill in trades.

Traineeships and apprenticeships not only offer you the opportunity to study and earn an income while undertaking a qualification, but they can also be taken in a full-time or part-time capacity.

It is hoped that by jumpstarting the education and apprenticeship industry with wage subsidy’s and a reduction of fees, that this will also support the economy by bringing in jobs that are required for each state and territory.

We break It down by country below.


Australia has announced an expanded wage subsidy scheme that will significantly impact the trades industries, this initiative is called the JobTrainer Scheme. A measure that will take place when JobKeeper is phased out in the new year, aimed at school leavers and those unemployed it will offer “340,700 new trainees and 180,000 apprentices free and low-fee TAFE courses.”

This scheme is for those looking to reskill or upskill, or who are newly joining the workforce, like school leavers.

The Australian PM declared that this is essential in rebuilding the Australian economy after the effects of COVID-19, stating that the jobs we may need in the near future will not be the same as those we lost prior to the pandemic. These courses will be based around the skill sets that are lacking in the country, as specified by the state governments and the National Skills Commission (NSC).

Apprentices belonging to small and medium-sized companies are eligible to apply for a  wage subsidy of 50% of the trainee or apprentices wage. Which will be paid until the 31st March 2021. However, trainees and apprentices must have been employed by 01 July 2020, to be eligible. This subsidy can be claimed for employees that have been displaced during COVID19 and re-enrolled by a new employer.

Small businesses wishing to claim can apply from now, whilst medium-sized businesses will be able to apply from the 1st of October this year. All payment claims must be registered by the 30th of June 2021 at the latest.

See here to apply.

New Zealand

In New Zealand, Apprenticeship courses will now be free of fees from July 1 2020 until December 2022. This scheme was developed primarily with courses involved in the training of required industry skills in mind, such as building and construction, vocational courses involving care, counselling and community health, and agriculture or manufacturing.

Initially, these courses were going to be the only courses receiving benefits, however, the Education Minister Chris Hipkins has stated this scheme will now apply to all New Zealand apprenticeships. Including those involving beauty, engineering, horticulture, tourism, and sports or fitness. Although apprentices and trainees in specified divisions will have further course expenses paid as well as their training fees.

This action has been taken to encourage the continued training of trades throughout the difficult recession caused by COVID-19.

The $320 million-dollar plan aims to recommit employers and employees back into traineeships and apprenticeships, after a considerable drop in training rates during the pandemic. The number of New Zealand trainees plunged from 133,000 to 83,000 in 2020.

We hope that these schemes will bring back life into struggling industries and bolster the country with the required skills and workers that have been or are now lacking.