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Labour restores apprenticeship training

Labour
2000 web siteLabour Leader Helen Clark said today the New Zealand workforce needed to be among the most skilled, and achieving that would be the aim of the next Labour government.

Restoring apprenticeship training was a key part of Labour's plans, Helen Clark said.

"We are a young nation with talented people. With Labour, New Zealand will have a government which sees training and upskilling our people as a priority.

"Labour has already released its industry policy which has been well received by business and leaders of regional economies. Our policy on industry skills training should be seen as part of Labour's overall commitment to becoming an active partner in the push to get New Zealand's economy growing again.

"We recognise that New Zealand's future has to be built around knowledge, skill and technology. That means we must commit ourselves as individuals and as a nation to education and training.

"The hands-off approach of the current government has not worked. In 1992, National abolished the apprenticeship system and turned industry training over to market forces. Even National politicians are beginning to realise that this approach is not working.

"The problems are obvious. There is no overall industry skills strategy. Employers complain they cannot find skilled people. We are not training people in the skills that a knowledge based economy needs.

"Even very basic issues like literacy and numeracy are not being dealt with effectively.

"There have been successes. But New Zealand needs to be steadily lifting the average level of skill in the workforce if we are rebuild prosperity. At the moment the best we can hope for is pockets of skill developing where there are particularly committed people.

"To move ahead it is vital that that government take an active role in ensuring that apprenticeship training is a practical option for learners and employers.

"Labour will introduce legislation for a Modern Apprenticeship Programme (MAP) which will provide better opportunities for New Zealanders to gain national qualifications through work-based training.

"We will be amending the Industry Training Act to make it more robust and focused. For example, we want to see fewer but stronger Industry Training Organisations. Over time we will ensure that all businesses have a strategy to lift the skills of their workforce. And we will be giving Industry Training Organisations the power to ballot their members and raise a levy if this is approved of by a majority."

Helen Clark said that another area of the policy in which she had a particular interest was learning and careers advice for secondary school students.

"Labour wants every young person who leaves school to continue with their education in some way. To achieve this aim we want to ensure that young people are actively planning ahead from Year 10 (Form 4) through individual learning/career focus interviews until they leave school.

"Our aim is to move towards every young person who leaves school having a plan showing what they will be doing next to build their qualifications," Helen Clark said.

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