Todd McClay: Apprenticeship scheme hits the nail on the head

By Todd McClay

The issue of trades training and how to help more young people transition from school to a trade qualification is often raised with me. As my grandfather used to say, "a trade is a job for life, son". For many this used to happen through an apprenticeship.

As skills shortages emerge across many sectors and with the Christchurch rebuild set to continue over the next few years, opportunities in the trade sectors will only increase. At the same time, as the economy starts to gain momentum, the need for skilled and qualified tradesmen and women can only increase. It's imperative there are enough skilled Kiwis to fill those jobs.

To meet these shortfalls and to offer young workers a better chance to get a foot on the career ladder Prime Minister John Key has recently announced a boost to the number of apprenticeships available nationwide with an increase in the support they and their employers can receive. All apprentices will now be combined into a single nationwide scheme - New Zealand Apprenticeships. The scheme will provide new financial incentives for employers and workers to take up more apprenticeships.

This is positive news for local sectors and trades which are calling for more bright young people to enter the workforce. High quality workplace-based training produces measurably more skilled and qualified workers, and is a critical part of building a faster-growing, more competitive economy.

These new apprenticeships will provide the same level of support, and the same level of subsidy, for all apprentices. In addition, overall subsidy payments will be increased by around $12 million in the first year, rising over time. We're also giving the first 10,000 new apprentices who enrol after April 1 up to $2000 towards tools and course-related costs. Their employers will receive the same amount.

By rebooting apprenticeships the Government estimates there will be an additional 14,000 new apprentices starting training over the next five years - over and above the 7000 who enrol every year.

In conjunction, much-needed changes will be made to the industry training system. These include clarifying the roles of Industry Training Organisations (ITOs), increasing the performance expected from them and enabling learners to transition easily between workplace-based and non-workplace based training.

The revised system will ensure ITOs work well alongside tertiary providers, and help deliver a comprehensive results-focused vocational education and training system for employees. This means more focused support for Rotorua's tertiary providers like Waiariki Institute of Technology and Te Wananga O Aotearoa.

These changes are part of our comprehensive suite of vocational training reforms which are creating a simpler, more effective, vocational training system.

Other initiatives already in motion include providing clear vocational pathways for young people interested in a vocational career, Trades Academies and Youth Guarantee places to ease transitions from secondary school to vocational training, and a major reduction in the number of qualifications at Levels One to Six to make the system easier to navigate for students and employers.

By making these changes to the apprenticeship system, we expect it will drive a higher level of qualification completions in industry training so more workers, especially young people, are equipped with transferable and practical skills they can use throughout their working lives. We want to ensure all young people are achieving worthwhile qualifications and being given every opportunity to progress to higher levels of education to improve their earning potential.

If you'd like more information about these new apprenticeships scheme have a look at my website, contact my friendly staff on (07) 348 5871 or email me directly at


- Rotorua Daily Post

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