The numbers and capabilities of new workers entering the civil construction industry are set to be boosted after the announcement of a new pilot program by Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery earlier this month. The State Government has joined with the industry to change specific civil construction qualifications from traineeships to apprenticeships — extending the duration of training from 24 months to 36 months to improve skills and employment opportunities. Ms Ellery said the McGowan Government was working directly with industries to increase the capability of their workforces and produce more skilled workers to meet demand. “We are committed to investing in training and working to build a skilled Western Australian workforce,” she said. “This initiative will improve the quality of training in civil construction and create robust career pathways into the industry while ensuring a pipeline of junior and mature-age qualified apprentices. “The program was developed extensively with industry and will go a long way in assisting the civil construction industry to train employees and deliver on key civil infrastructure projects.” The Construction Training Fund — developed alongside the Civil Contractors Federation WA and the CFMEU — will invest $5.99 million in the new pilot program, which the government said would help cover the wage gap created by the change. The Government said throughout the four-year pilot program it was anticipated around 250 junior apprentice wages would be subsidised, with more than 1200 new apprentices expected to start in the civil construction sector. A wage subsidy of up to $14,000 will be provided to employers with apprentices under the age of 21, and wage gap funding will be provided for 50 directly employed mature age civil construction apprenticeships. The CTF’s existing base grant, currently offered to employers who hire an apprentice, has been increased from $8000 to $10,000.