News & Views

7th February 2018

Why a Mature Wage Subsidy Makes Sense

29 Feb 2016

Mature age apprentices represent a real opportunity to reduce Australia’s skills shortage, raise productivity and enrich the electrical contracting industry, says the Chief Executive Officer of the National Electrical and Communications Association, Mr Suresh Manickam.

“Generally speaking, the past work experience of mature age apprentices is valuable to an employer. In other words, they understand the basics of an employer’s expectations and the fundamentals of what is required.”

“However, confusion exists across Federal and State/Territory jurisdictions and workplace legislation and awards concerning the terms and definition of an adult or mature age apprentice.”

NECA defines an adult apprentice as a person of 21 years of age or over, who generally attracts higher rates of pay through the Workplace Relations Act and other industrial awards, who enters into an indenture to a trade.”

“Mature age apprentices are often priced out of the marketplace as they are perceived to be too expensive when compared to apprentices who are recent school leavers. However, their productivity can often be much higher as a result of their previous work experiences and their maturity and experience provides an important workplace balance.” Mr Manickam said.

Junior apprentices are paid a percentage of the minimum wage rate for the Electrical Worker Grade 5 classification under the Electrical, Electronic and Communications Contracting Award 2010. Adult apprentices are paid at a minimum of 80% of the Electrical Worker Grade 5 classification in the first year and at a full Grade 1 rate from year two, under the same award.

“If Australia is serious about the reskilling, cross-skilling and up-training of its existing workforce, raising productivity and boosting employment for current and future generations, a mature age wage subsidy makes sense.”

“Given the benefits that mature age apprentices bring, NECA calls upon the Federal Government to support employers who employ mature adult apprentices by providing employers with a wage subsidy. This subsidy should match the differential between the hourly rate of a junior apprentice and adult apprentice across each stage year of the apprenticeship,” said Mr Manickam.


Media enquiries and interviews

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Notes for editors


  1. NECA is the peak industry body representing the interests of electrical and communications contractors Australia-wide.
  2. NECA is run by electrical contractors, for electrical contractors.
  3. We have 5,000 contracting companies as members – and they in turn employ over 50,000 people Australia-wide.
  4. NECA employs almost 350 people across its seven chapters (Queensland, New South Wales, ACT, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia).
  5. The chapters provide NECA members with a range of services including: Industrial Relations, Health & Safety, Legal, Technical, Training, business-support services, product discounts and advocacy representation in Canberra with Government, Industry bodies and Training bodies.
  6. NECA wholly-owns its Legal firm, Group Training and the NECA Colleges (in WA) and EcoSmart Electricians – and has joint ventures with a superannuation company (NSW) and one of the national cabling registrars (ACRS).
  7. NECA also employ around 2,000 apprentice electricians and provides training to a further 2,000.
  8. For further information go to



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