Financial assistance available to trade students


While there is much interest in trades careers in Australia, many individuals can find the financial strain too much to bear as they undergo their apprenticeships. During those four years, they’re restricted in terms of how much they’re able to earn. If they’re paying off trade school at the same time, the situation can prove unsustainable.

So what is a trainee expected to do? They can either start busking on the streets during their lunch break, impulsively come up with a multi-million-dollar app idea, or they can seek financial assistance from the Australian government. Government loans were put in place to assist the trade industry in grooming the next generation of carpenters, electricians, plumbers and builders to ensure the industries weren’t met with a skills shortage. It’s in the country’s best interest to ensure the industry has an ample talent pool to choose from as this major sector grows.


Set up as part of the federal government’s Study Assist Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP) scheme for 2016, VET FEE-HELP is designed to help eligible students pay for their tuition fees. The government HELP loan is given to the student up to the value of $99,389 throughout their lifetime to assist paying off any fees or associated costs that come with pursuing trade course qualifications. Students are required to pay back the loan once their income reaches the repayment threshold. For the 2016/17 financial year the threshold is $54,869.

To be eligible for the loan, the prospective student needs to be an Australian or New Zealand citizen, or a permanent residency visa holder. The student must also possess an Australian Tax File Number and have not exceeded the FEE-HELP lifetime limit. For those playing at home, the lifetime limit is the maximum amount any one person can borrow from the HELP scheme.

There are also a number of different funding initiatives available in each state, all with their own individual rules and policies. Just some of these include:

The Victorian Training Guarantee (VTG)

For those looking to train in Victoria, this government-funded program is an excellent means to gain subsided funding towards your vocational training course. To be eligible for the VTG, students must be a permanent Australian or New Zealand resident or hold a permanent visa.

Smart and Skilled

This is a NSW state government subsidised training program assisting those partaking in qualification courses up to and including Certificate III. It is ideally suited to trade qualification and pre-apprenticeship students looking to get into building and construction.

Higher Level Skills Program

For residents of Queensland only, this program offers subsidised funding for the Certificate IV in Building and Construction (Building) thanks to the state government.

Employer incentives

Apprentices are not the only ones who have access to financial support, as the Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Programme will provide numerous incentives to employers who take on an Australia apprentice. There are typically more incentives available to those who take on apprentices in trades that are currently experiencing a skills shortage.

Apprentice incentives

In addition to employers, there are also financial incentives available to apprentices both young and old. As many apprenticeships in different trades are in short supply, the government has set up incentive programs to entice more interest. Whether seeking an apprenticeship as an adult, or at the same time as you complete your secondary education, there are incentives available to make the process more financially sustainable.

Trade Support Loans

Another financial assistance option is Trade Support Loans, which can be paid in instalments of up to $20,000. This support option is only eligible to apprentices currently completing a Certificate III or IV under the priority trade occupations listed on the National Skills Needs List. To learn more about which trades are eligible for the Trade Support Loans, take a look at the priority list fact sheet.

Living away from home allowance

If you’re an Australian apprentice (of any age) who has moved away from their parents’ or guardians’ home, then you are eligible for payments throughout the first three years of your training.

You may also be eligible for following programs:

  • Centrelink’s Youth Allowance

Make sure you visit the Study Assist website for further information, and as always, the team at Builders Academy will be happy to assist your eligibility for any of the approved financial assistance programs they offer. You can call them on 1300 534363.