The Morrison government has laid out a $2.5 billion skills package.

The package consists of a $1 billion JobTrainer program – funded on a 50-50 basis with the states – to provide training or re-skilling for up to 340,700 school leavers and job seekers.

There is also an extra $1.5 billion to expand and extend an existing wage subsidy for apprentices and trainees, adding to the $1.3 billion announced for the same purpose in March.

The Government says the subsidy will expand from supporting 47,000 employers with 81,000 apprentices and trainees to nearly 90,000 businesses and 180,000 apprentices.

The subsidy covers half an apprentice’s wages, up to $7000 a quarter.

In order to receive the JobTrainer funding, state governments are being pushed into vocational education and training reforms, as the Prime Minister believes the VET system needs to be simplified and focused on skills employers currently seek.

Courses covered by the scheme will be free or low cost, and aimed at areas of need as identified by the National Skills Commission in consultation with the states.

Some of the sectors calling out for more workers include health care and social assistance, transport, postal and warehousing, manufacturing, retail and wholesale trade.

Places for courses will be available from September – the same time as the planned scaling back of other COVID-19 support measures. The apprentice support program has been extended by six months to the end of March.

Announcing the scheme in a radio interview this week Prime Minister Scott Morrison suggested there would not be a hard cut off of assistance at the end of September.

“Obviously in Melbourne in particular, that demand [for support] is going to be very great now for some period of time.”