Getting by on an apprentice salary, particularly in your first couple years, can be tough, especially if you live independently. We’ve compiled a list of the incentives and apprentice support – we recommend taking advantage of some of the great programs available on offer to apprentice bricklayers to help take some of the load off your shoulders.
Trade Support Loans
What are they?
Trade Support Loans are loans paid by the Australian Government to apprentices of specific trades that are in demand, including Certificate III and IV trades, which means that as an apprentice brickie, you’ll be eligible! The loans are similar to the HECS HELP loans some of your university mates might have, but instead of automatically being paid to the university for subjects, these loans are paid directly to you for use on anything you want, including tools, additional training, a ute, or even day-to-day living expenses. Just like a university HELP loan, you’ll be required to start paying back the loan once you meet a certain income threshold.
How much am I eligible for?
The amount you’re eligible for will depend on what year of your apprenticeship you’re in, and how long your trade apprenticeship goes for. As the amount you get paid increases throughout the course of your trade, the yearly loan amount you’re entitled to will decrease. For four-year apprenticeships, the total loan amount is $20,420, with three-year apprentices entitled to $18,378. If you apply for a trade support loan mid-way through your apprenticeship, you cannot receive backdated payment for your previous years
|4 (if applicable)||$2,042|
- Valid as of 7 March 2018. Amounts will index on 1 July every year according to inflation.
- Trade Support Loans are paid monthly.
Participation in the loan scheme is entirely optional, and you can opt out at any time. In fact, apprentices are required every six months to opt in to continue their loan. So, if you only need one years’ worth of loan payments to pay for equipment or a vehicle, you don’t need to keep accruing debt, and if you do finish your apprenticeship, a 20% discount is applied to the balance of the loan.
Repaying the Debt and Applying for the Loan
You will be required to pay your Trade Support Loan whether you finish the apprenticeship or not, although if you do finish your apprenticeship, you’ll be granted a 20% reduction on the balance of the loan – all the more reason to work towards completing your apprenticeship! After you meet the minimum income threshold, which for the 2017-18 fiscal year is $55,874, loan repayments will come out of your income along with your tax, regardless of whether you are still receiving loan payments from the government. The interest gained on your loan will be dependant on CPI, the rate of inflation, which is usually no more than 2.5% p.a.
To apply, contact your local Australian Apprenticeship Support Network, or give the referral line a call on 133873. For further information on the Australian Government’s Trade Support Loans, visit their website.
Other Incentives and State Packages
ABBTF Support: New South Wales and Queensland
If you live in NSW or QLD and travel more than 100kms to get to your nearest TAFE or RTO, you may be eligible for the Australian Brick and Blocklaying Training Foundation (ABBTF)’s Apprentice Regional Travel Support program. The ABBTF offers $50 per day, up to a maximum of $1,000 per annum for travel costs. Contact us for more info.
The Master Builders Association offer information and support on how to progress your career, as well as valuable information for later-stage apprentices looking to start their own company, including how to start your own business, become a subbie, comply with insurance and GST requirements, and how to become a builder. Each state has an MBA of their own, and most of them offer free or discounted membership to apprentices. Get in touch with your state’s MBA to find out more.
Victoria: Half-priced Rego
If you’re a Victorian apprentice, you’re entitled to half price vehicle registration on whatever car you use to get to work. Visit the VicRoads website to apply.
New South Wales:
Apprentices in New South Wales may qualify for a number of different allowances and subsidies including travel concessions, accommodation assistance and a $100 rebate on car registration. Visit the Smart and Skilled website for more information.
Skills Tasmania Accommodation and Travelling Allowance
Skills Tasmania offer allowances of up to $8,000 per calendar year to Tasmanian apprentices for meals, travel and accommodation costs for any apprentices travelling within Tasmania or interstate to attend their TAFE or RTO. Visit the Skills Tasmania website for more info.
Other State Incentives
It’s always worth checking your state’s skills or apprentice support website to see if you’re eligible for any other incentives to make completing your apprenticeship a little bit easier. We recommend taking advantage of everything on offer, because not all these opportunities will last forever!
You will still be eligible for financial support from Centrelink, regardless of if you take advantage of the incentives on offer to you as an apprentice. Be aware that for some types of financial support, Centrelink may count the incentives you receive as income, potentially reducing the amount you are entitled to. But as every little bit counts, we recommend looking at the following financial support schemes on offer to see if you’re eligible:
- Youth Allowance
- Austudy / Abstudy
- Pensioner Education Supplement
- Family Tax Benefit – Part A
- Family Tax Benefit – Part B
- Reduction in TAFE/RTO course fees
- Relocation Allowance
- Living Away from Home Allowance
- Travel and Fare Reimbursement
- Rent Assistance
- Pharmaceutical (Medical) Allowance
If you’ve got any questions, or would like more information about any of these services, pick up the phone and get in touch with Become a Bricklayer on 1300 30 44 77 – we’re here to support bricklaying apprentices in any way we can.