Budget to boost skills and benefit workforce

RDA Orana Director of Regional Development Megan Dixon has welcomed the Federal
Government’s 2021 Budget which will deliver additional funding into infrastructure, freight and road
networks, agriculture, health, education and workforce innovation.
“Expansion of the Building Better Regions Fund by $993.5 million for shovel-ready infrastructure
projects holds great potential for the region and we welcome contact from anyone needing help with
project readiness,” she said.
A $5bn investment in freight and regional roads across every state and territory will address the cost
of getting produce from farm to market and $34.8m for investment in agriculture innovation will
include development of strategies around key priority areas.
“There is also an allocation of $72.7m to support food and agriculture exporters to maintain,
diversify or expand their export markets through the AgriBusiness Expansion Initiative and $15m to
enhance trade and market access. This is good news in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic which
had a negative impact on this area.”
The Rebuilding Regional Communities program will also allocate $6.1m over two years to assist
community organisations and small enterprises in regional Australia to recover from the impacts of
“There has been $172.5m added to the Future Drought Fund to provide secure, continuous funding
for drought resilience initiatives to help Australian farms and communities and a $1.2bn package for
aviation and tourism businesses including discounted airfares which we could certainly take
advantage of in regional areas.”
The $84.8m Regional Connectivity Program also supports the delivery of reliable, affordable and
innovative digital services and technologies in regional and remote Australia with $26.4m allocated
over four years to support Australian businesses to take up energy efficient technology and practices.
Young people entering the workforce will be supported by an additional $2.7bn to expand the
Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements wage subsidy and $25.2m will be used to create programs
attracting Australians to agriculture, with a focus on school leavers.
“Under the scheme, eligible businesses will be reimbursed up to 50 % of an apprentice or trainee's
wages of up to $7000 per quarter for 12 months.”
Student visa holders will be able to work additional hours in the tourism and hospitality sector which
was devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This will allow us to help fill vacancies in the workforce through targeted recruitment and extend
working hours for existing employees which all helps the region to move forward,” Mrs Dixon said.
“There will be additional flexibility for temporary and student visa holders to work in the agriculture
sector as well – an industry which has been heavily affected by natural disaster and workforce
shortages in recent years.”
The Digital Workforce package will allow 20,000 individuals to upskill and reskill in digital fields,
including 3000 digital apprentices and trainees and new Digital Skills Cadetships.
The government has also allocated funding for 10,000 additional digital skills training places and
33,800 additional training places in the aged care sector and 5000 additional gateway service places
and in-training support services to encourage and support more women commencing in non-
traditional trade occupations.
For more information about RDA’s services including access to workforce and assistance with
funding applications, call 02 6885 1488.