More free training places in industries with shortages available to Canberrans

Lottie Twyford 7 December 2021
Early childhood educator with children

The Commonwealth and ACT Government’s jointly funded JobTrainer program will offer free courses in sectors that need workers, such as disability support, aged care, digital skills and early childhood education. Photo: File.

From 2022, Canberrans will be able to study courses in areas such as mental health or disability support, aged care, early childhood education and digital skills for free.

It’s thanks to a $16.75 million expansion of the Commonwealth and ACT Government’s jointly funded JobTrainer program, which initially offered free vocational education and training for young people aged 17 to 24 who have left school.

Now the program is broader and allows all Canberrans above 17 years of age access to a training place in the identified employment areas of growth regardless of employment status.

ACT Minister for Skills Chris Steel announced the initiative as part of a $126.3 million investment into skills which the ACT Government sees as a key part of the COVID-19 recovery.

A total of 2500 free training places will be offered over the next 18 months in the identified areas. A position in a course could cost upwards of a couple of thousand dollars, Mr Steel said.

minister for skills Chris steel and merlin Martin

ACT Minister for Skills Chris Steel and JobFinder program participant Merlin Martin share a drink. Photo: Office of Chris Steel MLA.

According to Mr Steel, since its launch in November 2020, the first phase of JobTrainer has supported more than 2000 enrolments in the ACT across 98 courses.

Each of those positions had been eagerly snapped up and Mr Steel encouraged interested Canberrans to sign up quickly.

“If you’re a school leaver considering your plans for next year, or a job seeker looking for your next opportunity, JobTrainer is your chance to skill-up with free, work-focused training,” Mr Steel said.

Mr Steel said each of the areas had been identified as ones in which jobs were all but guaranteed at the end of the training, given the major growth underway in each sector.

He said the government had consulted with industry on where the biggest gaps and opportunities lay.

“We know these areas are growing and there will be huge numbers of jobs in the future,” Mr Steel said. “This is a great opportunity.”


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He said the program had been expanded to all Canberrans because there was an acute need for workers in these sectors.

Mr Steel acknowledged that, for some people, the upfront cost of enrolling in a training course could be a barrier.

Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) Director of Industry and Engagement Fiona Mitchell said she was excited about the expansion of the JobTrainer program.

“There’s a whole raft of opportunities through JobTrainer, so it’s great for anyone young or who is a job seeker, to come on board, engage in vocational training and see the great pathways that can evolve from that,” she said.

Merlin Martin, who studied a Certificate III in Commercial Cookery as part of the JobFinder program, said he had been among the many school leavers who didn’t know what to do when he graduated two years ago.

Now an apprentice, Mr Martin had decided on cookery as it “wasn’t something (he) loved, but also not something (he) hated”. Now, he loves seeing people enjoy his creations, especially when they take photos of his food.


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It was the support of his teachers and peers throughout the course that proved invaluable to him getting where he is today.

“It’s been quite fun,” he said.

“I have a few really awesome teachers who have inspired me to go further and further.”

“I definitely would have stopped a while ago if it wasn’t for them.”

There is still a range of other programs that young people who are unemployed can currently access, while places in courses in hospitality, construction, retail and other skills are planned to be released in early 2022 as they are also sectors identified by the ACT Job Trainer Industry Advisory Group with a skills shortage.

See the JobTrainer website for more information.


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