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Modern apprenticeships tackles skills shortage iss

The government's Modern Apprenticeships scheme will help to raise the skill level of the New Zealand economy, ensuring that economic growth is not retarded by skills shortages, Prime Minister Helen Clark said today.

The Prime Minister today outlined the Modern Apprenticeships scheme at a breakfast meeting hosted by the Rotary Club of Port Nicholson. She also presented three Rotary Club Goal Setter awards, recognising the efforts of tertiary students and recent graduates who have overcome difficult circumstances to achieve their goals.

Later today the Prime Minister will visit Hutt Valley Polytechnic, where she will officially launch the newly-established national operation of Apprenticeship Training New Zealand.

"Recent surveys and commentaries have highlighted a burgeoning shortage of skilled workers across a range of industries," Helen Clark said.

"A recent survey from the Employers' and Manufacturers' Association , reported on by the NZIER in its March quarterly predictions, found that in the Wellington region 'over half of the respondents faced problems with staff skill shortages.'

"The NZIER concludes that 'Sustained growth in employment may aggravate current skills shortages…As the domestic revival takes hold, these difficulties are likely to increase'.

"A responsible government, committed to raising the living standard of all New Zealanders, can act to ease these pressures on the economy.

"The Modern Apprenticeships scheme, in combination with other measures, will ensure that the issue of skills shortages is tackled head-on, providing young New Zealanders with the skills and motivation necessary to succeed in the modern economy.

"On a day when we are honouring three New Zealanders who have met their personal goals, it is fitting to talk about the government's plans to create opportunities to carve out a worthwhile future via apprenticeships.

""Modern Apprenticeships are a new learning partnership between the government, employers and the community. The scheme provides a new vocational and training alternative for 16 to 21-year-olds, and will be run by Skill New Zealand.

"A key feature of the scheme is the appointment of Modern Apprenticeship Co-ordinators, responsible for providing local support for employers and apprentices. All learning will be based on an individualised training plan and training agreement, signed off by both the employer and the apprentice.

"Modern Apprenticeships show that the government is serious about delivering on its pre-election commitment to give young New Zealanders better access to high quality workplace learning.

"The government's vision is for a highly skilled and higher waged society, in which young people are given a fair chance to meet their goals. 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," Helen Clark said.

Modern Apprenticeships will be piloted over the last six months of 2000, with the intention of introducing them nationwide from early next year. The aim is to have 3,000 new Modern Apprenticeships in place by early 2002.

"Apprenticeship Training New Zealand has paved the way for the Modern Apprenticeships scheme. In just six months ATNZ has expanded beyond its regional bases in Auckland and Hawke's Bay to offer a nationwide service, covering industries as diverse as engineering and plastics processing.

"I am confident that Modern Apprenticeships can follow the success of ATNZ, providing a significant step towards raising skill levels in the workforce and ensuring that skills shortages do not become permanent impediments to sustained economic growth," Helen Clark said.


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