Wimmera apprentices weathered the worst of the pandemic and the end of Jobkeeper, with a lower rate of retrenched apprentices than their urban counterparts.
Uptake figures from the Apprentice Employment Network's Retrenched Apprentices and Trainees Program are optimistic for the region, with only 11 sign-ups to northwest Victoria's program.
The program offers apprentices retrenched by the pandemic the opportunity to be matched up with a new employer and continue their apprenticeship training.
Group training organisation Skillinvest has worked with the Apprentice Employment Network to roll out the program in Horsham.
Skillinvest chief executive Darren Webster said the Wimmera was insulated from much of 2020's pandemic job loss.
"A lot of that is to do with the fact that we have been able to keep a lot of our apprentices and trainees employed throughout this process (the pandemic)," he said.
"Certainly from the part of our business in Melbourne that is a different story, there has been a lot more registration in that area.
"That is reflective of the extra restrictions and lockdowns in those areas."
Mr Webster said regional hubs like Horsham were poised to have a robust post-COVID recovery, something he has already seen working with apprentices and trainees this year.
He believes government incentives to hire apprentices contribute to industry confidence but said the eventual rollout back of pandemic incentives could impact the apprentice workforce.
"There have probably been more incentives out there now than there has been in years, as they see the apprenticeship and traineeship positions as really integral to the recovery," he said.
"As some of the incentives, the government have been offering start winding down, what is the impact then? That is going to be the question mark.
"We foresee that there could be an impact, and across the whole industry that could be the case."
The federal government has extended apprentice wage subsidies until September 30, 2021.
Apprentice Employment Network executive director Gary Workman said without support, many retrenched apprentices would give away their trade entirely.
"Research shows that without targeted support, apprentices are very vulnerable to drop out of their training entirely when an employment contract doesn't work out," he said.
"The Retrenches Apprentices and Trainees Program aims to reach apprentices at this critical point so they can complete their qualifications and become skilled workers."
For more information on the program, visithttps://aen.org.au/outoftrade.
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