The Industry Skills Fund (ISF) is a programme designed to provide businesses with access to training to support their ability to grow and succeed in a rapidly changing economy. The ISF started in January 2015 and additional support for businesses in Northern Australia commenced in September 2015.

Primarily, the ISF targets small and medium enterprises trying to upskill and reskill their employees to improve their prospects of success.  However, larger businesses are also eligible for the ISF, although they will be required to make a higher contribution to the training costs.

Assistance is available in the following areas:

  • Skills advice – a service aimed at SMEs who need help understanding their growth opportunity and identifying the skills needed to increase their competitiveness; and
  • Training grant – investment in businesses looking to improve their employees’ skills for an identified growth opportunity (note that the business will be expected to co-contribute).

Priority Industries

Certain industries received priority status. These are said to be industries in which Australia, 

  • Has a competitive advantage; or 
  • Is likely to have an opportunity to exploit favourable global market conditions; or  
  • Have a significant impact on the Australian economy.

Priority industries include:

  • Advanced manufacturing;
  • Food and agribusiness;
  • Medical technologies and pharmaceuticals;
  • Oil, gas and energy resources;
  • Mining equipment, technology and services; and
  • Enabling technology and service industries supporting one or more of the above listed priority areas. 

Applicants within a priority industry will be given priority in the assessment process.  Applicants outside a priority industry are still eligible to apply but their application must clearly demonstrate that they have significant growth potential, and are getting ready to take advantage of economic opportunities.

Training Grant

If you received and were interested in implementing recommendations received as part of the Skills Advice services, you may apply for a Training Grant.  The Training Grant is aimed at assisting businesses with the costs involved in training. Notably, training activities to improve normal day-to-day business operations will not be eligible for a Training Grant.

Who Can Apply?

You can apply either as an individual business or through a consortium of businesses. Your business may be eligible as a member of a consortium if it isn’t individually.   

Registered Training Organisations and other training providers are not eligible to apply for a Training Grant to deliver training to their workforce or receive Skills Advice.

How To Apply

You should first contact the ISF either by phone (13 28 46) or by submitting an online enquiry form. They will determine your possible eligibility for either Skills Advice or a Training Grant. If you are eligible for a Training Grant, you must submit an application addressing the Merit Criteria for the Fund.  

An alternative access point to the ISF is through the Entrepreneurs’ Programme for businesses that have discovered a skills need through their involvement with the Entrepreneurs’ Programme Business Growth Services. For further information on this programme, visit the Entrepreneurs’ Programme page of business.gov.au. Access through this channel will be at the Entrepreneurs’ Programme advisor’s recommendation and the business will not need to reapply.

Funding Agreement

If your application for a Training Grant is successful, you must enter into a Funding Agreement with the Commonwealth Government.  An example of a Funding Agreement is available for your review at business.gov.au. You must not commence any project activities or pay for any courses until you have been advised that your application has been approved.

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There are many grants available to businesses looking to grow. If you have any questions about the ISF or any other grants available to you, ask our startup lawyers. 

Jill McKnight

Next Steps

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