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Economic Development Needs Skills

Minister for Industry and Regional Development Jim Anderton today announced a package of skills training funding that will kick-start some regional and industry development budget initiatives.

"This Labour Alliance Coalition Government is committed to skills and training as an important part of regional development," said Jim Anderton.

"I am pleased to announce that $600,000 has been allocated from Industry and Regional Development funding for development of new courses in the rapidly growing forestry, dairying and boat-building sectors*.

"One of the things holding back regions and key industries is skills shortages, and this Government, across a range of portfolios, is committed to addressing this vital issue.

"There is rapid expansion facing the dairying industry, with a projected 17% growth in stock by 2004 and a demand for 4,000 extra staff by 2006. We will deliver a pilot training programme and mentoring through Agriculture New Zealand to improve the skill levels of farmers as employers. $200,000 has been made available for this.

Shortages of skilled tradespeople available to the boatbuilding industry are to be addressed, through cross-over training courses for people from related trade areas and more work on industry qualifications. *This $200,000 was announced as part of the Northland package on Monday and will be delivered through the Boating Industries Association of New Zealand.

Overcoming skill shortages in the forestry industry is particularly important, as the volume of logs for harvesting and processing significantly increases in future years. Work with the forestry industry has also revealed that, in some regions, skill shortages relate to a poor level of basic work skills as well as to poor levels of literacy and numeracy.

$200,000 of this funding has been made available through the Forestry Industries Training & Education Council for the development of new materials, courses and support that will enhance individuals' work readiness and literacy and numeracy skills.

"This has been a whole of Government approach and my colleagues Hon Steve Maharey Minister of Social Services and Employment, Hon Parekura Horomia Minister of Maori Affairs, Minister of Forestry Pete Hodgson and Minister of Agriculture Jim Sutton have all been involved in aspects of this announcement.

"In addition, today Steve Maharey and Parekura Horomia are announcing a separate skills package for Tairawhiti, of which $100,000 is coming from Industry New Zealand for a coordinator. This initiative is a result of both the Tairawhiti Development Taskforce and the wood processing strategy. This is further government commitment to sustainable employment and economic growth in the Tairawhiti region designed to reduce the region's labour shortage," said Jim Anderton.

Ends


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