Optometry practices around Australia are taking advantage of a 50% wage subsidy for all new and existing permanent employees, available under the Boosting Apprenticeship/Traineeship program, announced as part of the Government’s economic response to COVID-19. There is no age limit or prior length of employment to be eligible.
With most practices no longer eligible for JobKeeper, the subsidy provides another cash injection that makes it easier, and more financially viable to train all new and existing staff. The program is also available to casual employees who are switched into permanent positions.
To be eligible for the Boosting Apprenticeship initiative, employees must register to enrol for an accredited traineeship course with a Registered Training Organisation (RTO), such as the Australasian College of Optical Dispensing (ACOD).
Employees must be either permanently employed part time or full time, and be an Australian citizen or permanent resident.
The subsidy will be paid to employers quarterly, in arrears, to a maximum of AU$7,000 per quarter ($28,000 pa) per employee taken on under the program. Employers can enrol multiple staff at once, and attract the wages subsidy for each enrolled staff member.
James Gibbins, co-founder and director of ACOD, said the announcement has had an immediate impact on the optometry/ optical dispensing sector.
“This is great news for optometry practices and members of the public who will benefit from better eye health outcomes as a result of this focus on employment and training.
“Around the country, we’re seeing optometry practices employ new staff, or transition casual staff into permanent part and full time positions, and these employees are all registering to undertake vocational training.
“We have had a massive increase in enrolments for our Certificate IV in Optical Dispensing HLT47815 – it’s an uptake we’ve never seen before. Fortunately, we now have 12 teaching staff and four teachers in training. We’ve moved many of our course modules online, but still retain our interactive face-to-face workshops, which means we are well resourced to provide all of our students with an excellent learning experience,” he said.
The subsidy is only available for one year, from 5 October 2020 to 30 September 2021, however will be back-dated to the day when the employee registered with the course provider to participate in a vocational training course.
“Register for the course today and, even though it may take a few weeks for the administrative process to be completed, this is a tax free wage subsidy that will be back dated to the day you registered and paid to your employer,” Mr Gibbins said.
The wages subsidy is not the only incentive announced by the Government to make vocational training more affordable for employers and employees alike:
• A person who is part time and employed for less than one year will receive $1500 training support when they are course complete,
• A person who is full time and has been employed for less than three months, will receive $1500 on course commencement and $2500 on course completion ($4000 in total training support), and
• Other traineeship benefits, such as financial assistance for transport and accommodation associated with attendance, are available
• The fee to participate in a vocational training differs from state to state, depending on subsidies available in each one. Recently, the NSW government announced that eligible employees who choose to study Certificate IV in Optical Dispensing Course, HLT47815 can do so for free until April 2021. Other state fees are $1,000 for ACT, Tasmania and Western Australia; $2,500 for South Australia and $4,500 for Victoria and Queensland.
Offer Wont Last
Mr Gibbins said practices should act quickly to secure the new training and jobs initiative.
“If an employer wants to access this support for the Certificate IV in Optical Dispensing HLT47815 with ACOD, the first step is to have the employee register ASAP with us via the ACOD website. This is urgent because only then can the traineeship contract be drawn up to be signed, and then the traineeship can commence and the funding is secured.”
There is no cancellation fee if the practice or the employee withdraws later.
“Once registered, ACOD will prepare the traineeship contract and the student’s enrolment will be approved, allowing them to immediately commence study, access the ACOD learning site, the learning materials, recorded lectures and live interactive webinars. At this time we will also dispatch their text book.”
To register an employee for the Certificate IV in Optical Dispensing HLT47815 visit: www.acod.edu.au/current-courses/ or contact ACOD Directors James Gibbins (AUS) 0425 278 227 or Chedy Kalach (AUS) 0416 095 263.
JobMaker Hiring Credit
The JobMaker Hiring Credit is another incentive available to employers for each new job they create over the next 12 months from 7 October 2020.
For each eligible employee, employers will receive for a period up to 12 months:
• $200 a week if they hire an eligible young person aged 16 to 29 years; or
• $100 a week if they hire an eligible young person aged 30 to 35 years.
Employers must demonstrate that they have increased their overall employment to receive the JobMaker Hiring Credit for a period up to 12 months for each position created.
This incentive is not available for employees for whom the employer is also receiving a wage subsidy under another Commonwealth program such as the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements wage subsidy, Supporting Apprentices and Trainees subsidy and the Australian Apprentice Wage Subsidy Trial.