With the Government’s expansion of the Trade Support Loans Act 2014, more apprentices and trainees will be able to access interest-free and income-contingent loans to help them meet daily living costs while completing their training, with the program expanded to include non-trade apprenticeships for the very first time.

Approximately 35,000 additional apprentices in areas of skills shortage will now become eligible for important cost-of-living support.

Federal Member for Werriwa, Anne Stanley MP, said that year on year, apprenticeship completion rates have been declining and it was high time something was done to reverse that trend.

“Australia is currently experiencing a skills shortage and the Albanese Government is helping those in critical occupations and supporting them during their training,” Ms Stanley said.

“Those in the care economy have been excluded from participating in this scheme and these changes will ensure that those undervalued sectors are finally recognised.”

Since July 2014, over 167,000 apprentices have taken up a Trade Support Loan, helping them meet their everyday expenses.

However, the list of eligible apprentices has not been updated since 2014 leading to critically important non-trade workers being excluded from the program.

The Trade Support Loans Amendment recently passed the Parliament and will expand the eligibility to include – for the first time – non-trade occupations such as early childhood education, aged care, and disability care.

The Trade Support Loan Priority List will be replaced with a new Australian Apprenticeship Priority List, expanding the current occupations eligible and supporting those who are training in the vital sectors that are experiencing critical skill shortages.

In 2023, these changes mean that approximately 35,000 additional apprentices and trainees would become eligible, particularly benefiting women.

Those who participate in the scheme will be eligible for a 20 per cent discount on their loan on competition of their training.

“The expanded Australian Apprentice Support Loans will also help to address the gender pay gap, by making more loans available to women apprentices and trainees,” Minister for Skills and Training, Brendan O’Connor MP said.

“Too many apprentices don’t finish their training, many due to financial hardship. These changes inject cost of living relief so more people can access immediate financial support to help them complete their apprenticeship or traineeship.”