Eleven experienced mentors will be employed by the National Rugby League (NRL) to help support Australian Apprentices complete their training in key trades, thanks to a grant of more than $2 million from the Federal Government.


Announcing the three year, $2.3 million mentoring and support project, the Minister for Skills, Senator Chris Evans, said the project would help support more than 1,000 Australian Apprentices, including NRL and Toyota Cup players, to complete their apprenticeship.


"The funding will help support Australian Apprentices who might otherwise be at risk of withdrawing to complete their training," Senator Evans said.


"Mentoring is a proven way to help improve the experience of an apprentice, especially in the first years of their training where they are not only learning new skills, but also about routine, discipline and the workplace.


"Only about half of all apprentices currently complete their trades training.


"The Government's partnership with the NRL aims to boost the number of completions in order to support the supply of skilled workers in sectors with current or emerging skills needs."


NRL Senior Education and Welfare Manager Paul Heptonstall said the Federal Government's support for 'Trade Up With the NRL' recognised the strong influence Rugby League can have in encouraging young people to commit to and pursue their career goals.


Mr Heptonstall said he hoped 'Trade Up With the NRL' would not only encourage young people to enrol in an apprenticeship but give them the support to be able to complete it.


"With 70 players in the NRL's Toyota Cup national youth competition currently working as apprentices, the game can use first-hand experience in how to assist others in overcoming the challenges they may face in trying to achieve their vocational goals," Mr Heptonstall said.


"The new program will assist apprentices who have an affiliation with any Rugby League club, or employers who feel that Rugby League can be a positive influence in their apprentices' lives."


The mentors will be current and former players or personnel with experience in the Rugby League system who are either completing or have already completed their trades.


"The mentors will be able to use their first hand experience to teach Apprentices how to manage the competing demands of a football career, an apprenticeship workload and a family," Senator Evans said.


"Their experience means they'll be able to give players a unique perspective on life after football and the value of getting a trade to set up a lifelong career."


The program will focus on apprentices in small and medium enterprises and is expected to be strongly taken up in the building and construction, electrical, landscaping and horticulture industry sectors.


"The project will not only reach those playing in the NRL or Toyota Cup, but also those in the school system who aspire to play professional football," Senator Evans said.


"With training and support, Australian School-based Apprentices may be close to completing their trade qualification by the time they are picked up by the NRL or Toyota Cup, meaning they already have the skills they need for a rewarding career after rugby."


NRL Player Education and Welfare Officer and Australian Government Apprenticeship Ambassador, Andrew Ryan, who was at Homebush for today's announcement, said the Australian Apprenticeships Mentoring Program would further enhance Rugby League's initiatives to prepare players for post-football careers.


"As a former player who has experienced the benefits - and challenges - of working as an apprentice (landscaper) and studying throughout my football career, it is very exciting to see these new programs in place to help players plan for a genuine career post footy," Mr Ryan said.


"Now with the Australian Government's Apprenticeships Mentoring Package and the flexible programs available, the likelihood of take-up, retention and completion rates of apprenticeships is certain to increase."


More than $100 million has been allocated for the Australian Apprenticeships Mentoring Package nationwide.