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Flooring ITO Christchurch Modern Apprentice - Spch

22 August 2002 Speech Notes

Flooring ITO Christchurch Modern Apprentice induction strategy

Wigram Airbase

2:00PM Thursday, 22 August 2002

Greg Durkin,

Employers,

Modern Apprentices,

I want to talk to you about three things:

- The importance of employment to our future - why more good jobs are so crucial.

- Two, I want to talk about how things like industry training and Modern Apprenticeships fit into it.

- And most important, I want to talk about the importance of the young New Zealanders who pass through these courses.

For me, jobs are crucial to creating the future that New Zealanders want.

Good jobs, in high-skill, high-value, high-tech industries, producing things that the rest of the world wants to buy.

New Zealand has seen the effects of high unemployment - we saw it through the eighties and nineties.

High unemployment has a high personal cost for the individuals affected.

Joblessness leads to the destruction of lives - health problems, suicides, higher crime rates.

Who would be surprised if people feel that they haven’t got a stake in society when they can’t get a job.

Who would be surprised that people don’t care what happens to others when they think no one is interested in them?

If you could halve unemployment, you would halve the crime rate.

We’ve just been through an election where fears about crime once again played a dominant role.

Bob the Builder was going to fix it.

I don’t think he has yet.

Of course people are worried about crime, bashings, fear and destruction.

I believe that if we dropped the unemployment rate, then we would make a huge impact on the suicide rate, health problems, drug and alcohol problems, child neglect and abuse problems.

Unemployment is coming down.

Still too slowly, but it is coming down.

It’s down to the lowest level it has been at since 1987.

Later this year, the forecasts say unemployment will drop under five per cent of the work force.

By then the Reserve Bank should have a new Governor and a new Policy Targets Agreement in place.

In the old days, Don Brash - before he went off to his new job as an Opposition MP - he would have had a coronary if unemployment got as low as it is getting this year.

He would have pushed up interest rates and the exchange rate to force a few firms out of business and cool things down.

We might just have a good chance of getting unemployment even lower now.

The results are beginning to show up.

They are showing up most strongly in the regions of New Zealand.

The regions are booming.

Only three years ago, centres like Gisborne and Invercargill were being told that decline was inevitable - that there was no future for those regions.

Now, we have turned them around, and every single region in New Zealand is growing.

That is not an abstract thing - it is a real difference to the lives of individuals.

Last month I opened a factory in South Auckland.

You won’t have heard about this, because it was during the election campaign - and whenever I did something during the election campaign, like announce 400 new jobs, the news media stayed away.

This factory takes New Zealand beef and turns it into beef jerky for the United States.

I talked to some of the people who had jobs at that factory.

Many of them had been unemployed.

Some had been on the dole for ten years.

The more jobs we can create and the higher our national income, then the more we can afford social services like health and education.

The only way that New Zealand is going to create the jobs we need to unlock our future is to transform the economy of New Zealand.

I believe New Zealanders are among the most creative and innovative people in the world.

If we want more jobs and rising incomes, then we need to unleash that creativity.

We need to provide every New Zealander with the opportunity to develop their skills.

We need to ensure that every enterprise can find talented people with the skills needed to put New Zealand at the forefront of economic development.

When I became the Minister for Economic Development, the call as I went around the regions was “where are the jobs?’

Now the call is “where are the skills?’

That is where the Modern Apprenticeships scheme is important.

The Government’s target was to have 3000 Modern Apprentices around New Zealand this year.

But the scheme has proved to be so successful that it has expanded by almost a quarter in the last three months alone.

There are now 3,254 Modern Apprentices training.

It was my party’s policy and it is the government’s intention to double the number of Modern Apprentices by the end of next year.

More than half of the Modern Apprentices (1,972) were aged 18 or younger when they started their training.

It’s good to see that one of our key aims for Modern Apprenticeships - of getting young people back into industry training - is being so well achieved.

The number of maori taking up Modern Apprenticeships is increasing.

There are now 536 maori Modern Apprentices.

All around the country, I meet both Modern Apprentices and employers who are enthusiastic and committed to the programme.

The structured training path and assistance helps trainees and it helps industry to solve its own skill shortage problems.

While the Modern Apprenticeships programme has been very successful nationally, I’m also aware that the uptake of apprentice training in Christchurch has fallen short of the rate of growth here.

That is why programmes like this one we are here to mark today are so important.

There is an ongoing shortage of flooring installers.

And so this 15-week induction course brings together employers who need skilled staff with young trainees who have the opportunity to develop the skills needed and pursue a worthwhile career.

My priority in this term of the government is to see that everyone under twenty is in full-time education, work or training.

That is an ambitious goal, but it is also achievable.

Already here in Christchurch, the Canterbury development Corporation operates a scheme that tracks school leavers and develops a case management approach for young people who are not in work or training.

Case management simply means they work out the personal needs of the individuals involved and do something about it.

In addition the programme works closely with employment agencies and with employers to find jobs and places in training schemes.

It is a pilot programme that I would like to see repeated around New Zealand.

It is vital for industry, vital for the wider community, and most important of all, it is vital for the individuals involved.

I want to say to the young people coming through this course that the contribution you can make is unique.

Only you can make your contribution.

If you don’t do it, no one will.

New Zealanders are almost shy when it comes to talking about our achievements.

What New Zealanders do and what they have done is often brilliant, but we are reluctant to be seen to be promoting ourselves.

I want every young New Zealander to look at successful New Zealanders and believe “that could be me.’

I want us to celebrate our successes

I want our kids to inherit a New Zealand where everyone has the opportunity to develop their talents to the full.

Where we are prepared to have a go and risk failure, without being punished for failing.

But where our success becomes an inspiration for others and where every young person has the chance to give it a go.

I see programmes like this one as providing a platform for you to go on and make the most of your abilities.

I congratulate the organisers and the the trainees who will come through this course.

ENDS


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