A $2 billion push to train school leavers and job seekers during the coronavirus pandemic will put the onus on businesses to hire staff.
The federal government will tip $500 million into a scheme dubbed JobTrainer for school leavers and job seekers to complete courses in areas including health care, transport, manufacturing and retail.
It's expected to help 340,000 young people and laid off workers retrain to get jobs in other sectors.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison unveiled the program on Thursday alongside a $1.5 billion expansion and extension of wage subsidies for apprentices, but underlined the need for industry to step up.
"Jobs are created by businesses and an economy that is growing. They are not created by training programs," he told reporters in Canberra.
"They are created by businesses opening their doors, employing people and doing better than they are today."
Mr Morrison said it would be upsetting for many Australians struggling to get a job in the industry they had been working in.
"Whatever age you are in our workforce, we know that this is one of the hardest times, if not the hardest time in your life you've experienced out there in the labour market," he said.
Employment Minister Michaelia Cash said the government was days away from getting all the states and territories on board.
Shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers raised concerns the program could be "just another marketing exercise".
"If it genuinely supports apprentices and it genuinely keeps people in jobs then Labor will obviously welcome it and support it," he told reporters in Brisbane.
Federal funding will hinge on states signing up to a new vocational education agreement.
States already signed up will start rolling out the scheme by September.
NSW, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, the NT and the ACT have either signed up or are about to.
Mr Morrison is confident Victoria will sign up but said the coronavirus outbreak was dominating the state government's agenda.
The money will make a range of short courses delivered via TAFEs and private providers free for students.
Other courses that lead to qualifications including Certificate III and IV and diplomas will be subsidised.
The new National Skills Commission will identify specific skills shortages to be addressed.
Wage subsidies for apprentices and trainees will be expanded to cover medium-sized businesses with under 200 employees, with the program extended for six months.
Master Builders Australia chief executive Denita Wawn wants more targeted support for the construction industry.
"The building and construction industry trains more apprentices and provides more full-time jobs than any other sector in the economy," she said.
The initial program covered half of an apprentice's wage for nine months until the end of September.
Australian Associated Press