Budget provides pathways for best and brightest

October 09, 2020 3 min read

Budget provides pathways for best and brightest

The Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heating (AIRAH) has applauded this year’s Federal Budget which provides vital support for the HVACR industry.

AIRAH CEO, Tony Gleeson, said jobs are key especially in sectors such as the built environment.

“A highlight of the Budget is the plan to create 100,000 apprenticeships through a $1.2 billion package that will subsidise 50 per cent of apprentices’ wages,” he said.

Plus more than $900 million has also been allocated to provide more university places and support for students. And almost $25 million has been committed to a new program starting in 2021 to create pathways to STEM careers for up to 500 women through industry-sponsored advanced apprenticeship-style courses.

“This is all positive news,” Gleeson said. “Our industry, like many others in the building and construction sectors, relies on both university-educated engineers and technicians who come through the VET and apprenticeship system. We are also pleased to see the efforts to make our traditionally male-oriented workforce more diverse and inclusive.”

Many of these new workers could be employed by businesses taking advantage of schemes for deducting the cost of eligible depreciable assets and instantly writing off newly acquired assets.

“There will be jobs in selling, delivering, installing, and servicing these assets,” Gleeson said. “But it is imperative that when the rules of the scheme are defined, assets such as HVACR equipment are classed as eligible.

“By purchasing or upgrading this equipment, businesses will not only help create jobs in the short term – they will make their operations more energy-efficient, saving money and reducing emissions for many years to come.

“This initiative, along with the funding for energy efficiency in commercial and residential buildings – announced before the Budget – can put us on the road to a prosperous and sustainable future.”

Australia’s new workforce will also be busy working on infrastructure projects across the country.

Gleeson said this presents the government with a further opportunity to support apprentices, by changing procurement guidelines in the building code so that apprentices must be employed on federal government-funded projects.

Finally, AIRAH has backed the $1 billion allocated to Australian universities for research, as well as the $1.6 billion boost to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

“Overall, this Budget is an investment in Australia’s skilled, resilient, productive and clean future economy, powered by a strong STEM-skilled workforce,” he said.

The Australian Government’s allocation of $1 billion towards research funding will assist to offset the loss of revenue from international students, but universities must also experiment with more sustainable revenue models.

Stoic Venture Capital Partner Dr Geoff Waring said while the $1 billion will boost the flow of innovative technology, the government’s additional $5.8 million commitment to the translation and commercialisation of university research could help pave stronger links between universities and industry to convert the innovations into growth companies and jobs.

Dr Waring said the long term returns from these university-initiated technology companies will assist universities to reduce their reliance on international student fees and increase their role in economic development of the surrounding communities.

“The connections between universities and industry through commercial partnerships ensure research priorities are aligned to solving the most painful unmet needs in our society,” Dr Waring said.

“Startups from university research are the wellspring of innovation in our economy, with new products and services that can change the health, lifestyle and wellbeing outcomes for millions of people around the world.”

The Australian Government is also focused on trying to attract the “best and brightest” skilled migrants in the face of a substantial decline in immigration.

Executive chair of Atlas Advisors Australia, Guy Hedley said the government’s plans to prioritise the Business Innovation and Investment Program as well as onshore visa applicants who live in designated regional areas will provide additional important stimulus to assist the growth of ailing sectors.

Hedley said the government’s moves were of great importance in light of a forecasted decline in Australia’s net overseas migration of 72,000 people in 2020-21 financial year.

“High net worth applicants to the Significant Investor Visa, Investor Visa and Premium Investor Visa invest hundreds of millions of dollars into our economy lifting employment and creating new business opportunities,” he said.

“These new citizens can assist in reducing the impact of lower migration levels.”


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