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Skills Package Welcomed

28 September, 2004

Skills Package Welcomed

The Education Forum welcomes today's announcement of a package of changes aimed at addressing skill shortages, policy advisor Norman LaRocque said today.

The package, announced today, includes additional funding to increase the rate of expansion of Modern Apprenticeships and to increase participation in industry training.

"A variety of surveys have shown that a lack of skilled employees is one of the biggest problems facing small and medium enterprises in New Zealand , so the initiative is welcome" Mr LaRocque said.

"The Government is to be applauded for the emphasis it has placed on industry training in recent years. This package continues that. But it should not be the end of the story. A key issue to be addressed is the relative treatment of on-job and off-job training. In particular, it is not clear why industry training funding remains capped, while tertiary institution funding is largely demand driven.

Government policy should ensure that New Zealanders can make skill acquisition decisions are based on factors such as quality and relevance, not simply because there is more money in one pot than another, said Mr LaRocque.

The government should also ensure that its labour market and skills development policies are coordinated, said Mr LaRocque.

"The current, relatively deregulated employment relations environment provides considerable scope for trainees and firms to develop mutually advantageous training arrangements. Ideological re-regulation of the labour market would be counter productive.

"We applaud this step, and hope the government will continue to focus on pro-growth, pro-business policies that will harness the full potential of New Zealanders," concluded Mr LaRocque.

ENDS


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