The three-year Tūpoho Workforce Development scheme will receive $2.25 million in Government funding announced today by Social Development and Employment Minister Carmel Sepuloni.
The scheme will be run by Tūpoho Investments Ltd (TIL), the business arm for Whanganui iwi Tūpoho.
Tūpoho Investments Ltd chair Ken Mair welcomed the funding, saying it would enable the iwi to support local Māori through apprenticeships and help address an acute shortage of skilled and qualified tradespeople in the local workforce, including builders, carpenters, plumbers and electricians, among others.
"It's fantastic news," Mair said. "We are elated. There is a desperate need to have qualified people out there, in particular in the building trade but in all the other trades as well.
"This will give us a real ability to get some of our young people into a trade and training scheme and apprenticeships with the appropriate support mechanisms in place."
Mair said the funding injection will also provide pre-employment training and crucial wrap-around support and pastoral care from a Te Ao Māori world view.
"That's important – we want to build the capacity and capability of our people to get into trades training in the first place, and then make sure there are wraparound services so that apprentices can complete their qualifications.
"Wrap-around support will help them develop work-ready, sustainable skills and tools that will mean they will thrive in their work and in their local community and will be able to fill some of the gaps and trades skills shortages in our community.
"If we reflect on the Māori trade training schemes of the 60s and 70s and the positive benefits that came from our people who participated in that training, we're hoping that we will see a similar situation here – that, in 30 or 40 years' time these people that we've trained up will remain in the trade bringing immense benefit to our community with their skill and knowledge base.
"We know that many of our young people are looking for this type of opportunity. There are also those who are a little bit older at 30-ish, 40-ish and they'd love this opportunity alongside our young people. We're looking forward to being able to implement this programme for our people."
There would be no shortage of jobs in Whanganui once the apprenticeships are completed, Mair said.
"There are some massive builds that are going to occur in this community over the next two to five years.
"We need to ensure that there are highly skilled, qualified Māori in the trades to support some of these major building projects that are going to happen within our community in the very near future."
Potential projects include major housing builds.
"We are still in the early stages of investigation and inquiry, but we're aiming for quality housing and anything from 80 to 120 houses."
The Minister for Social Development and Employment has committed $18.57 million Māori Trades and Training funding to a range of new and existing projects supporting more than 500 jobseekers into jobs, education and training.
Sepuloni said wrap-around support for trainees was integral to the projects.
"That's something that is not common across many employment programmes, but as we look to support more Māori into sustainable employment, education and training, it must be front of mind for employers and the workforce, as it is for Government.
"This latest tranche of investment will help to fill the demand for skilled workers, improve employment, social and whānau outcomes, and contribute to the workforce that is helping build the Government's 18,000 Kainga Ora homes."
In addition, the Government is investing $5.6 million to help more than 300 rangatahi overcome barriers to employment, education and training through He Poutama Rangatahi projects.
"He Poutama Rangatahi has shown early success, engaging more than 6000 at-risk rangatahi in communities across regional Aotearoa, including more than 2500 who have been supported into employment, education and training.
"We want rangatahi to have the skills they need to thrive, but we also know that our approach must recognise the importance of individualised and ongoing support for those most at risk of long-term unemployment."
Funding for Māori Trades and Training and He Poutama Rangatahi is now administered by the Ministry of Social Development. Projects have previously been funded by both the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the Provincial Growth Fund.