The relatively limited coverage of skills reform in the budget partly reflects the competence centre of the COVID-19 package of the July update, the need to water down the 2019/20 budget-training package and the ongoing work on skills reform with the states and territories responsible for implementing vocational training. The Skills Reform Package also includes $52.3 million over three years, from 2020 to 21, for additional places in the Skills for Education and Employment (EEA) programme, which provides up to 650 hours of language training, literacy and numeracy to eligible job seekers, as well as a study study to develop a new national framework for foundation skills. The current goals of the National Foundation Skills Strategy for Adults run until 2022. The budgetary response of the main vocational training groups is relatively moderate. The National Apprentice Employment Network welcomed the wage subsidies for apprenticeships, while warning that „there must be careful management and supervision to ensure that wage subsidies are directed to areas where real qualifications are needed.“ TaFE Directors Australia also expressed concern that some employers could „move existing workers to inadequate or lower quality training to obtain the subsidy, with much of the 100,000 places available.“ The Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia focused its response on funding the National Skills Commission and the abolition of the FBT on training and retraining offered by employers. Some commentators have pointed out that, although approximately $5.0 billion has been allocated to training since the beginning of the pandemic, the sector needs „more money“ to effectively support the recovery, with „many channels“ of appropriate support for the capacity needed to rebuild the economy. While this is a long-standing and accepted legal principle, the budget announcement states that this rule „may deter Australians from retraining and retraining to support their future careers and jobs.“ It is important that the budget announcement does not commit to changing the law, but „to discuss possible changes to the current rules to determine whether deductions should also be directed towards future employment and qualification needs.“ The Australian government funds vocational education and training (VET) through a combination of payments to states and territories to support vocational training and Australian government programs. Australian government programs focus on supporting and managing the national training system, basic skills for adults and helping learning places through programs such as the Australian apprenticeships incentives programme (AAIP) and trade support loans. The central element of this year`s budget is the measure to promote apprenticeships, a wage premium for new apprentices, which costs $1.2 billion in advance (budget measures: Budget document 2: 2020-21, p. 77).
The stated objective of the grant is to encourage „employers of all sizes and sectors across Australia to recruit apprentices and apprentices.“