We are almost approaching the second month of the first quarter for FY19 and still there are no updates concerning the exact implementation date for the Skilling Australian Fund (SAF) agreement. For a recap of the SAF, please refer to one of our earlier blog posts

We have, however, received an update that five states and territories, precisely, New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania, Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory, have already come on board and signed the SAF agreement injecting an estimated $3 billion into the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector in state and federal funding. It is a matter for the Australian Government to continue working with the remaining states that are yet to sign the agreement.

Funding will be prioritised towards apprenticeships and traineeships across a range of key priority areas. The Hon Karen Andrews MP in a recent media release stated that “The Turnbull Government is committed to seeing an extra 300,000 apprenticeships over the coming four years through the Skilling Australians Fund and I expect that many of them will find on-going employment with Australia’s various manufacturers.”

Whilst the implementation date for the SAF continues to linger in the air, New South Wales TAFE has already taken a step forward by removing the payment option for Training Benchmark A from their website. This resembles the fast approaching nature of the implementation date and that it could be just a matter of days before businesses looking to sponsor employees on the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS), Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) and Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) programs will be required to make upfront training contributions at the time of nomination.

However, employers are reminded that current obligations and training requirements will continue to remain in effect until the SAF has been implemented. Until then, existing sponsors may wish to consider finalising any nomination applications before the SAF comes into effect if they have already complied with the current Training Benchmarks A or B. This will relieve the business from making a twofold payment to meet the training requirements.

For smaller businesses looking at applying to become standard business sponsors, it may be more cost-effective for them to wait for the SAF to be implemented before proceeding with the sponsorship of overseas skilled labour for temporary or permanent visa applications.

We will continue to keep you posted as updated information concerning the SAF implementation date comes to hand. If your business would like to discuss the timing of lodgement and how to reduce unnecessary costs relating to the training benchmark requirement, feel free to contact us for a comprehensive assessment of your circumstances and recommended strategy moving forward.