Forty Northlanders will get apprenticeships through electricity lines company Northpower thanks to $1.5 million from the Regional Apprenticeship Initiative.
Up to 350 more people in regional New Zealand will gain a pathway to trades training through a $14m Government investment in apprenticeships, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced in Whangārei yesterday.
The apprenticeships are part of the $40m Regional Apprenticeship Initiative (RAI) announced in June. The funding comes from the Provincial Growth Fund and will be used to support up to 1000 regional apprenticeships in total.
Jones announced the funding at Northpower's Whangārei headquarters on Friday and the company will get $1.5m from the RAI to help bring 40 people into the electricity sector.
The company will employ the new staff and develop them into completing apprenticeships under the Northpower Trades Cadetship Programme over the next two years.
Chief executive Andrew McLeod said Northpower is grateful for RAI funding.
"This is very much about workforce planning to ensure we meet the current and future needs of our business here in Northland and for our clients throughout the North Island.
This is a really critical partnership with another Northland owned-business People Potential, who do a great job providing the training and support for us,'' McLeod said.
"We have seen first-hand the success of the trainees on our pilot programme and the contribution they have made to our business and that has provided the template for setting up the way this is going to work in the future."
The programme will prioritise displaced workers including those who have undertaken pre-trades training and are looking for work, as well as Māori and Pasifika. The programme will be open to all other workers (including existing employees interested in apprenticeships) when this demand has been met – adding to Northpower's already diverse workforce.
He said Northpower recruits through iwi connections, with 70 per cent Māori representation in its current cadetship intake.
"When I announced this new initiative in response to economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, I said we wanted to get that funding to the people who needed it within six months," Jones said.
"The first five schemes, which were worth just over $12m for 300 apprenticeships, were announced in July and now I am announcing another six. Together these 11 apprenticeship schemes have put us just over the half-way mark and well on track to achieve the whole $40m allocated before Christmas.''
Fonterra will receive funding of $1.76m to help expand its apprenticeship scheme and support an additional 44 people over two years, including in Northland.