Australian businesses can now apply for a slice of the Federal Government’s $476 million Industry Skills Fund to boost the skills of their workforce.

Businesses can take advantage of the big funding pool to upskill or retrain their employees.

This will be particularly useful for manufacturing and resource firms, whose business models and workforces are put at threat by rapidly changing industries.

“Employers will be supported to decide what training is needed in their business, and which training provider they want to work with,” said Senator Simon Birmingham, Assistant Minister for Education and Training.

“The Industry Skills Fund is a key part of the Abbott Government’s ambitious program of vocational education and training (VET) reform to lift the quality of both training providers and their courses, enhancing the contribution VET makes to the employment prospects of students and the competitiveness of Australia's economy,” Senator Birmingham said.

Businesses wanting support to train workers will be required to make a contribution between 25 and 75 per cent to the cost of training.

The co-contribution rate depends on the number of employees, with smaller businesses receiving higher levels of support.

Guidelines and more information are available here.