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Grant scheme extended as Govt targets jobs

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After spending up big on health, the State Government has shifted the focus of tomorrow’s budget back onto the jobs front, with an extension of a handout program to encourage small-to-medium-sized businesses to hire more workers.

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The Government is hoping the new funding  – which offers $5000 on top of the $10,000 grant for employing new staff of any type announced in last year’s budget – will help boost employment prospects for young people in South Australia.

Businesses with payrolls between $600,000 and $5 million will receive up to $15,000 for each apprentice above current staffing levels.

Small businesses with payrolls up to $600,000 will receive up to $9000.

The package is budgeted to cost $8.1 million over three years.

InDaily will have full coverage of the State Budget in a special edition published after 3pm tomorrow.

SA’s jobless rate eased from 7.3 to 6.9 per cent in the latest figures, but remains the highest in the nation.

The new apprentice/trainee category in the Jobs Accelerator Grant is expected to cost $8.1 million over three years.

Businesses must retain the new staff member for at least 12 months to receive funding under the Jobs Accelerator Grant, and for at least two years to receive the full sum.

So far, businesses have hired almost 10,000 new employees for which they have accepted the cash. About 2000 current applications are estimated to be eligible for the new apprentice/trainee grant.

Premier Jay Weatherill said in a statement this morning: “We want to do everything we can to create opportunities and new jobs during that transition and that’s exactly what the Job Accelerator Grants are all about.

“These grants, announced in last year’s state budget, have exceeded forecasts and already helped create almost 10,000 jobs in the economy.

“By offering an additional $5000 for apprentices we can create more jobs for younger people in South Australia, and at the same time support South Australian businesses as they invest and grow.”

Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis said the closure of Holden – which he described as being “forced by the Federal Government” – was “hitting South Australia hard”.

“While Holden won’t close its doors until October, we are already seeing the impact on component manufacturers as their forward supply contracts dry up,” he said.

“But new, high-growth industries are emerging and by offering an extra $5000 for each new apprentice or trainee in small and medium businesses, we can ensure the skills exist within the workforce as these sectors develop.”

Speaking to reporters this afternoon, Koutsantonis denied the new grant category would encourage employers to unnecessarily classify new employees as trainees to pay them less.

He said that under a previous, abandoned grants scheme, some unscrupulous businesses were reclassifying existing employees as trainees to take advantage of the Government cash. But he said that was not possible under the scheme announced today because businesses could access the funds only if they were creating new jobs.

“This government has put its money where its mouth is,” he added.

The Government has also announced new payroll tax rebates for about 1300 businesses.

The rebate will be offered to businesses with a payroll of between $1.2 million and $1.5 million. It’s expected to cost $45 million over four years.

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