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Skills gaps must close, says Maharey

The Government must ensure that skills gaps in our economy close fast, Associate Education (Tertiary Education) Minister Steve Maharey said today.

Mr Maharey outlined the Government's skills training strategy to the New Zealand Forestry Industry annual conference in Auckland this afternoon. Greater numbers of skilled workers and more flexible training arrangements are needed so that New Zealand industries can capitalise on worldwide demand for our products. Mr Maharey said that the Government was committed to removing the obstacles which are holding back the development of our industry training infrastructure.

"Changing skill needs, and changing workforce composition, has increased the amount of training needed in our economy. The review of our industry training system is designed to ensure that employers can recruit the skilled staff they need.

"Industry stakeholders have raised with the Government a number of key issues which they consider are holding up the development of a fully effective system of industry training. These include:
 the restriction of industry training funding to below level 4 of the NQF;
 addressing critical skill shortages in particular industries and responding to literacy and numeracy problems amongst the potential pool of workers;
 increasing pressure on the Industry Training Fund;
 costs on employers (particularly of small firms) in dealing with the industry training system, particularly where they need to work with several different ITOs;
 the relationship between the industry training sector and the formal tertiary education sector; and,
 the limited opportunities available to use industry training as a pathway to other types of learning available in the tertiary sector.

"I have asked my officials to ensure that these issues are fully considered during the review. A Government discussion document is also being published early in the New Year that will canvas widely the views of industry.

"An effective training system is an essential pre-condition to a strong economy," Steve Maharey said.

Ends

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