Tradie bosses across Northland are welcoming a trades and apprenticeships training package that will scrap fees for new apprentices.
The Government recently announced apprentices in all industries will have their training fees paid from July 1 in a bid to maintain trades training through the Covid-19 recession.
The $320 million programme will be funded out of a four-year, $1.6 billion Trades and Apprenticeships Training Package announced in the May 14 Budget.
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Those training in "high demand" areas such as primary industries, construction, community support, electrical engineering and manufacturing will be targeted first. They will also have compulsory student service fees and other compulsory course costs paid, as well as their training fees.
Education Minister Chris Hipkins said the fund will encourage and support New Zealanders to undertake vocational education and training in high-demand industries.
"We know as a result of Covid-19, many New Zealanders will be looking to retrain and employers in key sectors will need more skilled people," he said.
"We've removed costs for learners, apprentices or employers, and for the next two and a half years, are targeting courses and programmes that are more likely to lead to jobs."
Classic Builders Whangārei operations manager Kane Thorne said the training package was great news for all the trades.
Those who had lost their jobs because of the Covid-19 crisis now had an opportunity to look at a new career, he said.
"It's great, it's going to produce more builders because a lot of the time when it's busy it's hard to find good qualified guys. It's just going to open it up and get more and better tradesmen."
Thorne's brother Bryce, from Bryce Thorne Builders in Whangārei, has three apprentices and is considering taking on another because of the fees being scrapped.
"It's a great idea, it'll open things up for a lot of people," he said.
"There's still a lot of work on in Northland, and this is going to motivate employers to feel the confidence to carry on. It's going to make it easier for apprentices too."
The fund is designed for people in a range of circumstances and stages of their lives - not just school leavers. It applies to existing apprentices and trainees as well as new sign-ups.
In many cases apprentices, trainees and learners at tertiary providers will save between $2500 and $6500 a year.
Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO) chief executive Warwick Quinn also welcomed the training package.
The construction sector has been through recessions many times before including the 2008 global financial crisis, Canterbury earthquakes, 1997 Asian financial crisis and the stock market crash of 1987, he said.
"The core challenge for the construction sector is retaining apprentices in the system. This package goes a long way towards breaking the 'boom and bust cycle' and keeping talent in the system."
BCITO has just over 13,000 active trainees and apprentices.
Last year, building and construction was New Zealand's third largest sector, directly contributing $19b to GDP.
Residential building forms the backbone of the sector, accounting for 60 per cent of its revenue and employing 80 per cent of apprentices.
Targeted vocational programmes
Primary industries, including agriculture, horticulture and viticulture, fisheries and forestry;
Construction, including building, plumbing, and civil engineering;
Community support, including youth work, care for elderly, counselling and community health, including mental health and addiction support;
Manufacturing and mechanical engineering and technology;