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Further Step Towards Raising Skills

Prime Minister Helen Clark and Associate Education Minister (Tertiary) Steve Maharey said today that a major review of industry training in New Zealand would contribute further to the government's efforts to raise skill levels in the New Zealand workforce and help our economy to thrive in the twenty-first century.

At a function hosted by the Port Nicholson Rotary Club this morning, Helen Clark and Steve Maharey released a public consultation document on the future of industry training in New Zealand, 'Skills for the Knowledge Economy: Ngä möhiotanga mö te köhanga whai mätauranga'.

The review was conducted by the Department of Labour and the Ministry of Education in conjunction with Skill New Zealand. It was set up to identify ways of making the existing industry training system more effective.

"A skilled workforce is vital to our economic growth, our standard of living, and our international competitiveness," Helen Clark and Steve Maharey said.

"For example, a disturbing numbers of New Zealanders do not have a basic level of literacy and numeracy essential for most jobs.

"Skills for a Knowledge Economy presents a number of options for boosting foundation skills training, including funding this area at a higher rate than other training, setting up a separate fund for foundation skills training and including a literacy / numeracy component in entry-level qualifications.

"After years of neglect by National-dominated governments, the Coalition introduced the Modern Apprenticeships programme last year. However, we still do not have the kind of integrated skills and employment strategy that is required."

Helen Clark and Steve Maharey said Skills for the Knowledge Economy pointed out:

"Not all sectors of the economy have ITOs or integrated industry skills and training strategies. Even when there has been a strong uptake of structured industry training, firms have limited ability to anticipate economy-wide shortages, resulting in a restricted supply of skilled workers in some sectors."

The review has accordingly focused on six areas:

 Improving access to and responsiveness to training;
 The funding of industry training;
 Developing the generic, transferable skills of New Zealand’s workforce;
 Raising the level of foundation skills;
 Providing better information for decision-makers and planners;
 Exploring some of the implications for government agencies.

The review goes on to discuss a number of strategies for addressing these six areas, which are seen as the key to an integrated skills strategy.

The Industry Training Review has been closely aligned with the work of the Tertiary Education Advisory Commission, the second report from which, Shaping the System, was released by the Commission last week.

Helen Clark and Steve Maharey said the consultation document provided an opportunity for interested groups and individuals to contribute to a process vital to the prosperity of all New Zealanders.

An electronic copy of Skills for a Knowledge Economy can be downloaded from www.dol.govt.nz/itr.htm

Submissions can be sent by 11 April to Industry Training Review, PO Box 3705, Wellington, or emailed to itr@dol.govt.nz

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