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Training And Skill Levels a Priority - PM

20 January 2000

Clark: Industry Training And Boosting Skill Levels Top Govt Priority

Prime Minister Helen Clark said today that the new government is working on new legislation on apprenticeships. The government aims to boost the number of apprentices in training as a key step towards equipping New Zealand industry with the skills it needs for a 21st century economy.

The Prime Minister was speaking during her visit to Porirua firm Cryovac Sealed Air Industries Ltd, where she presented employees with National Certificates in Plastics Production.

“Cryovac is a progressive firm whose commitment to upskilling its employees has been exemplary. I also commend the workers who have gained this qualification for their commitment well beyond working hours to achieving it.

“The plastics industry ITO is also to be commended for its promotion of upskilling in the industry. I acknowledge too the very constructive role played by the Engineers’ Union in promoting upskilling and its full participation in the affairs of the plastics industry ITO.

“The new government’s plans for improving industry training will encourage firms throughout New Zealand and across industry to strengthen their commitment to work-based training.

“Successful industry training is based on a partnership between companies, workers, unions and government.

“Our vision is for a highly skilled and higher waged society. That can only be sustained by constant innovation in industry, high productivity and high skill levels.

“Companies who share this vision will prosper. Workers who share this vision through their commitment to upskilling and productivity improvements will prosper too.

“Government’s role is to make effective contributions to funding industry training, to ensure that the tertiary sector can support that training, to provide a modern and effective legislative and policy framework for industry training and to provide leadership and a vision of what a highly skilled society can achieve.

“The need for a modern apprenticeship system is obvious. Without the skilled workforce that apprenticeship systems are designed to deliver, New Zealand’s economic performance relative to other countries, and with it our standard of living, drops. As a nation, we deserve better.

“New legislation governing apprenticeships will provide for:

 apprenticeship training leading to nationally recognised trade qualifications
 both the employee and the employer signing an agreement which is registered with the relevant ITO
 the employee being involved in structured training on and off the job.

“The government will also establish an apprenticeship incentive fund to encourage employers to take on additional apprentices. The wage rate for apprentices will be set after consultation with the ITOs and unions involved in the industry,” Helen Clark said.

Press secretary contact: Mark Watts, 025 822 734 or David Lewis, 025 409 492

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