Round 2 EOI applications now open

Expressions of interest applications for Round 2 are now open and will close on 26 March 2024.

The Workforce Connect Fund is an initiative designed to increase investment in industry and community-led projects that address attraction, retention and participation issues within the workforce.

It aims to drive systemic, industry-wide change in relation to these issues to enhance workforce outcomes for employers, employees and jobseekers.

The Fund is a key action of the Good people. Good jobs: Queensland Workforce Strategy 2022–32, developed to drive Queensland towards a strong and diverse workforce ready to seize today's jobs and adapt to future opportunities.

Funding

The Workforce Connect Fund provides grants for large, scalable projects delivered by industry peak bodies and community peak organisations to connect, develop and implement new and innovative strategies, services and/or mechanisms that support the attraction and retention of employees now and into the future.

Organisations proposing large-scale projects can apply for funding of up to $1 million each, with each project to be delivered over a maximum 24-month term.

The Fund also provides funding to small businesses with an immediate need for new and innovative human resources (HR) solutions to support their business. Up to $5,000 is available for HR support and advice (subject to funding availability).

Expressions of interest for Round 2 are now open and will close on 26 March 2024.

Online information session

To learn more about the Fund including eligibility requirements and the application process, register your interest to participate in a Workforce Connect Fund briefing session. There are 2 sessions available:

  • Thursday, 29 February, 3–4pm AEST
  • Tuesday, 5 March, 10–11am AEST.

Register your interest to attend a session.

For industry peak bodies, grants of $20,000 to $200,000 under the Growing Workplace Participation Fund are also available.

Who can apply

To be eligible, small businesses must:

  • have an active Australian Business Number (ABN)
  • be registered for GST
  • demonstrate their principal place of business is in Queensland
  • have fewer than 20 employees (by headcount)
  • have an annual turnover of less than $10 million
  • demonstrate that at least 50% of the business's income is generated directly from the business (i.e. not solely investments or government funding)
  • declare that owners/directors are not insolvent or undischarged bankrupt.

Additionally, small businesses must have engaged with an Industry Workforce Advisor and developed a Workforce Plan that identifies an immediate need for new and innovative HR solutions to support its workforce to be eligible to apply for this grant.

Eligible activities
  • Engaging with HR specialists to receive advice and coaching to improve workforce issues
  • Specialised recruitment strategies or practices to attract and retain underutilised or specific cohorts.
  • New workforce systems or tools that promote human resource support and resources accessible to employees and change the current workforce operations of a business.
  • Other new and innovative approaches that support workforce attraction, retention or participation

How to apply

Small businesses that have worked with Industry Workforce Advisors to develop a Workforce Plan that identifies essential HR support needs can request an application form by emailing wcf@desbt.qld.gov.au.

Email requests must include:

  • a copy of the completed small business's Workforce Plan
  • the relevant contact details of the Industry Workforce Advisor that has been working with the small business.

Help and information

Workforce Connect Fund Round 2 information

  • 26 March 2024: Expressions of interest (EOI) for 2023–24 funding Round 2 closes
  • 13 February 2024: Full applications for 2023–24 funding Round 2 opens

Who can apply

Industry peak bodies and community peak bodies that are registered for GST are eligible for funding under this initiative.

To ensure successful delivery of projects, applicant organisations must partner with other organisations, such as:

  • peak bodies
  • community-based organisations
  • HR/recruitment specialists
  • other relevant stakeholders.

2022–23 (Round 1) successful applicants

Successful applicants from the 2022–23 round are not required to resubmit an application to seek extensions or additional support for ongoing projects. First round applicants can contact the Workforce Connect Fund team for further advice by phone 1300 369 935 or email wcf@desbt.qld.gov.au.

Eligible activities

Projects must:

  • have a strong focus on connections and community engagement
  • explore and trial new solutions with partner organisations to address industry specific issues with the aim of creating long-term, sustainable workforce outcomes
  • be able to be rolled out sector-wide and effect systemic change within the specified industry.

Projects can propose to address a specific challenge within an industry (i.e. participation rates or retention of specific cohorts or labour mobility), or propose a broader concept to address identified attraction, retention, and participation issues more holistically.

Project examples could include:

  • implementation of sector-wide human resources support
  • design and development of new information technology platforms or systems
  • development of new programs and approaches that support specific cohorts and promote social cohesion within the industry
  • development of innovative pre-employment programs
  • development of innovative, new mentoring or coaching strategies that trial new approaches to the professional development and retention of employees
  • other innovative concepts designed to address current and future workforce attraction, retention, and participation issues.

Application process

Expression of interest (EOI)

An EOI period will open for applicant organisations to submit their large-scale project proposals to the department, along with evidence to confirm their eligibility as a peak body organisation and provide their response to the capacity to manage criterion.

To be eligible, applicant organisations must submit an EOI between the specified dates below to progress to the full application stage.

Expressions of interest for Round 2 opened on 13 February 2024 and will close at 5pm, 26 March 2024.

Full application

Applicant organisations that submit an EOI may be invited to complete a full application where the full assessment criteria and evidence requirements must be satisfied.

Note: Not all EOIs will progress to a full application. We will notify applicant organisations who won't be progressing beyond the EOI stage.

Applications can only be accepted during an open funding round period.

Applications are assessed against set assessment criteria, including the applicant organisation's capacity to manage the proposed project, and assessed by an Assessment Panel established by the Department of Employment, Small Business and Training (DESBT).

How to apply

Applications for the Workforce Connect Fund must be submitted via the DESBT SmartyGrants portal.

To apply:

  1. Create an account or log into the DESBT SmartyGrants portal.
  2. Select the Workforce Connect Fund application form.
  3. Read and accept the terms of use and privacy statement.
  4. Complete the application form, upload any required supporting materials and use the relevant templates supplied below.
  5. Check your application is complete, then read and accept declaration terms.
  6. Submit your application before the funding round close date.

Application forms will only be available during the open funding round. Incomplete and/or late applications will not be considered.

Top tips

  • Applications can be completed over time, from anywhere and on any device with internet access.
  • While there is an auto save feature, you are encouraged to save regularly as you complete, edit, and refine your application.
  • We recommend you submit your application no later than 2 days prior to the closing date to ensure any unforeseen issues do not prevent your organisation from applying.

Successful 2022–23 projects

View the successful projects from the 2022–23 funding round.

Help and information

Round 2 support resources

For all general enquiries for the Workforce Connect Fund, phone 1300 369 935 or email wcf@desbt.qld.gov.au.

Benefits of the Workforce Connect Fund

Employers within specific industries will benefit from large-scale projects completed under the Workforce Connect Fund by having greater access to resources such as:

  • human resources support and advice
  • new information technology platforms or systems
  • new mentoring or coaching services.

Jobseekers looking to enter a specific industry will benefit from large-scale projects delivered under the Workforce Connect Fund by having greater access to resources such as:

  • specific pre-employment programs
  • new industry work experience programs
  • standardised entry level requirement materials for specific industries.

Successful projects announced in round 1 of the fund commenced delivery in early 2023.

Connecting businesses

A network of industry workforce advisors will be established to support employers to:

  • address gaps in workforces and connect to potential sources of labour supply
  • connect employers with other DESBT programs, including the Workforce Connect Fund.

Once projects are approved, they will be published to this website and employers will also be able to make direct contact with funded project contacts.

Connecting jobseekers

Approved projects will be published to this website and jobseekers will be able to make direct contact with funded project contacts.

Funded organisations will partner with a number of organisations that will also assist jobseekers connect to funded projects. Partner organisations will also be published to this website.

Contact us

Email wcf@desbt.qld.gov.au or phone 1300 369 935 for enquiries about the Workforce Connect Fund.

Last updated 19 February 2024

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