Hervey Bay apprentice carpenter James Irwin (right) started work this week with Rick Walters Homes.
Hervey Bay apprentice carpenter James Irwin (right) started work this week with Rick Walters Homes. ALISTAIR BRIGHTMAN

Young people get career Kickstart

IT'S ENGINE is ticking over in the wake of the global financial crisis, but there are parts of the Fraser Coast economy in need of a kickstart.

That’s why the region is among a number of hot spots targeted for special attention by the Federal Government, with an apprentice scheme the latest incentive for employers to push on.

“Now is the time to be investing in apprenticeships so we can soften the impact of skill shortages that will occur when the economy moves further into recovery,” Jason Millward, the government’s local employment co-ordinator for the Fraser Coast, said.

The Apprentice Kickstart Bonus program boosts the commencement bonus from $1500 to $2350 and follows it up with another $2500 after nine months.

“It means employers can now receive $4850 in the first year for employing a young person in a traditional trade.”

Employers have until February 28 to take advantage of the bonus scheme, which was launched at the start of December.

Mr Millward has targeted the hospitality and construction industries on the Fraser Coast with the apprentice kickstart but he is also encouraging greater diversity in the Hervey Bay and Maryborough workplaces.

“A more diverse economy resists downturns,” he said.

“The Fraser Coast economy is not as diverse as a major centre or city.

“Hervey Bay depends on tourism and construction which are at risk in a downturn. Retail also suffers, affecting both cities.

“Diversifying creates a breadth of economy. Diversity gives you some insurance against a downturn in a region.”

Mr Millward said there were “early signs” that the building industry had turned the corner in the Bay but Maryborough was “struggling a little bit”, particularly while a question mark continues to hang over Downer EDi Rail about future State Government contracts.

“Conversely you have a business like Bunnings come to town and you assume they must have done their research.”

More details on the Apprentice Kickstart Bonus are available from Wide Bay Group Training or at www.australianapprenticeships.gov.au.



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