Member for Page Janelle Saffin today visited Kyogle Tractors, an expanding local business ready to take advantage of the Federal Government’s Apprentice Kickstart Program.

Ms Saffin met with Stuart and Brenda Hauser, who have been providing a range of tractors and farm machinery to the North Coast’s farming community for the past four years.

The Hausers’ third-year apprentice diesel and agricultural mechanic, Luke Bennett, this year was named Northern Rivers Group Training’s top regional apprentice in 2009. He finished runner-up in the Hunter Valley Training Company’s Awards between Wollongong and the Queensland border.

Stuart Hauser said that as Luke would become a qualified tradesman from December 31 this year, he was working with Northern Rivers Group Training to take on a first-year apprentice under the $100 million Apprentice Kickstart Program early in the New Year.

“And if we get good rainfall over summer and the economy continues to pick up, we will look at taking on a second apprentice under the program,” Mr Hauser said.

Ms Saffin said that the Australian Government was more than tripling the commencement bonus for employers like Mr Hauser who take on traditional trades apprentices from December 1, 2009, until February 28, 2010.

“My message to businesses in Page is that there has never been a better time to take on an apprentice, with the bonus for a new apprentice increasing from $1500 to $4850 in their first year,” she said.

“We want to support up to 21,000 young Australians entering traditional trades this summer, and I hope many of these young people get that start in my electorate.”

Ms Saffin said the Kyogle area was gaining a reputation for turning out award-winning tradespeople.

Kyogle’s Josh Harris, who won a bronze medal for welding at the Worldskills International competition in Canada earlier this year, met Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard during ‘Try A Trade’ at Parliament House in Canberra recently. Josh is a qualified boilermaker at McKee Co Engineering, Lismore.

For more information on the Apprentice Kickstart Program visit www.busyatwork.com.au/news/government-stimulus-kickstart-apprenticeships.