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Maharey Rejects Modern Apprenticeship Criticism

Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education) Steve Maharey has totally rejected today's Dominion front page lead story suggesting that the Government's new Modern Apprenticeship Bill has a race clause and condemned the National party's refusal to deal with the needs of disadvantaged groups.

The Bill provides that coordinators are to have due regard to all those groups that face disadvantage in the labour market – such as Maori, Pacific peoples, women, and the disabled.

"Modern Apprenticeships is about encouraging all of our young people to take up and complete work-based mentored training. The programme has been positioned as linking school education and second chance learning programmes which are particularly important for groups such as Maori which are not currently achieving well in the education system.

"It is remarkable that a paper that has editorialised on the importance of education as a remedy for the gaps that do exist in our society now attacks a policy that is about providing opportunities for our young people.

"Modern Apprenticeship coordinators will be required to have regard to groups that are disadvantaged in the labour market – they will not be required to hit targets, nor to meet quotas."

Mr Maharey noted that the Opposition had welcomed the Bill when it was first introduced, and that no Opposition speaker had even mentioned the clause that was now the focus of their attention.

"This shows their new found concern up for what it is – an expedient attempt to play the race card."

Mr Maharey noted that the Government had made a conscious decision not to take a prescriptive approach to the issue.

"One submission to the Education and Science Select Committee from Federated Farmers of New Zealand recommended that the Bill should direct coordinators on how they are to have particular regard for Maori and Pacific peoples.

The Government declined to accept this proposal on the grounds that it would be too prescriptive and could restrict innovative practices. The high variability of situations and approaches makes a legislated method for having regard to the needs of Maori and Pacific peoples too restrictive," Steve Maharey said.

Ends

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