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Skill New Zealand Campaign Road Show Speech

Hon Steve Maharey
12 November 2003 Speech Notes

skill new zealand Campaign Road Show

Comments at the skill new Zealand Campaign Wellington Roadshow. West Plaza Hotel, Wellington.

[Slide 1]

Good afternoon and welcome to this meeting of the skill new zealand campaign road show. It is great to see you all here.

I would like to thank the campaign partners ¡V the Council of Trade Unions, Business New Zealand and the campaign co-ordinator the Tertiary Education Commission ¡V for your work to date. My thanks also to you all for attending this meeting and for taking up the opportunity to be a part of this campaign.

I don¡¦t think anyone here this afternoon needs convincing of the need to upskill the New Zealand workforce and the benefits that this will bring. How we best achieve this, and the skill new zealand campaign¡¦s contribution to this, is likely to stimulate greater discussion and will form the basis of much of the meeting discourse and workshops. I am certainly delighted to be able to share some of my thoughts today.

[Slide 2]

Launched in July this year, this campaign marks the beginning of a concerted effort to help raise awareness of how to increase skills levels in New Zealand and promote the relevance and benefits of workplace learning.

I would like to emphasise to you that the Government recognises the continuing demand for skilled workers and the emergence of skill shortages in some regions and industries. We are making significant steps towards understanding and addressing these issues. Indeed, skills training is a particular priority for the Government over the next year and this is reflected in the Statement of Tertiary Education Priorities which we released in early August.

No one doubts the need to keep lifting New Zealand¡¦s skills level. It is of paramount importance and a key driver of the tertiary education reforms and establishment of the Tertiary Education Commission. Indeed, our future success as a nation will hinge on our ability to build a skilled and dynamic workforce that has:

ƒ{ the capacity to respond to shifts in global demands, and;
ƒ{ the creativity and expertise to create and exploit opportunities for growth.

One way in which the Government is addressing these issues is through:

ƒ{ specific initiatives to improve and speed up the matching of people¡¦s skills to available job opportunities, and to reduce future skill shortages by helping people make better decisions about their own education and training pathways.

Industry Training and Modern Apprenticeships are two such initiatives.

[Slide 3]

Industry Training is a key mechanism to lift the skill levels of our workforce. Both Government and industry have continued to inject funding into the industry training area. This year¡¦s Budget demonstrates just how serious we are. The Government is boosting the capacity of industry training by $84.3 million over the next four years to increase the number of workers participating in workplace learning.

I am pleased to say that, in relation to the numbers New Zealand employees learning under formal training arrangements in their places of work, I am able to report significant advances each year. This year is no exception.

You may already know that during 2002, more than 106,000 people participated in industry training compared with the 95,000 in 2001. A total of 9,761 National Certificates were completed in 2002. More than 24,500 employers provided industry training to their employees and industry contributed over $38m in cash towards the cost of this training while Government contributed $90.6m. These are impressive results.

The Government has set a goal of getting 150,000 workers participating in industry training in 2005. We will achieve these sorts of numbers only with a great deal of hard work, cooperation and a commitment to applying fresh strategies and approaches. This campaign is one of them.

Addressing and preventing skill shortages is important for all industries, employers and workers. The efficiency and productivity of industry and the well-being and career prospects of workers is dependent on a skilled workforce, as is the national economy¡¦s ability to grow and meet the challenges of the future.

[Slide 4]

The Modern Apprenticeships initiative is a very fine example of the sort of success that can be achieved when innovative new approaches are trialled, and more specifically, of the value of workplace learning and its interest and relevance to young people.

The Modern Apprenticeships programme continues to attract employers and apprentices across a wide range of industries ¡V so much so that the June 2003 target of 5,000 was achieved by March.

Further to this, I am delighted to announce today that the December 2003 target of 6,000 Modern Apprentices was reached 3 months early. Modern Apprenticeship numbers have grown rapidly over the last year so that by September 2003 there were 6,073 Modern Apprenticeships in place.

The early achievement of this target is an important milestone, and bodes well for achieving the forthcoming target of 6,500 Modern Apprenticeships by June 2004.

There are now Modern Apprenticeships available in 30 different industry sectors, widening the apprenticeship concept well beyond its trade origins.

This is likely to expand further with the Government¡¦s investment of a further $15 million over the next four years to increase the number of modern apprentices to 7,500 by June 2006.

Industry Training and Modern Apprenticeships are only two of a number of Government initiatives addressing skill needs in our country. (Further details of these programmes are provided in the draft Tool Kit). And although both have had great success over recent years we must not become complacent. We need to build on the success of these programmes in getting people into workplace learning and industry training.

In particular, we need to ensure the skills development message gets to those employers who have not traditionally engaged in workplace learning as a means of increasing the numbers of workplace learners and building the overall capacity of the New Zealand workforce. The skill new zealand campaign will do just that.

[Slide 5]

The Government is investing $800,000 over four years into this campaign. It is a joint initiative between Government, Business New Zealand and the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions to raise awareness of how to increase skills levels in New Zealand and promote the benefits of workplace learning.

The key to the skill new zealand project is that it is driven by the needs of employers and workers in business and industry. It recognises that to a considerable extent, skills issues have to be addressed where they occur ¡V in the workplace.

Workplace learning is an essential and critical component of our tertiary education system, and skill new zealand will build awareness among workers and employers of workplace learning and industry training by promoting understanding of the links between worker organisations, businesses and government agencies. One of the most positive outcomes of this initiative will be ongoing collaboration between industry, unions, employers and Industry Training Organisations.

It is in this spirit of collaboration that we have come together today to participate in this meeting. This is a great opportunity for you to have your say. The more discussion and perspectives we hear the better.

I encourage you to be forthcoming in your feedback on the draft tool kit and to contribute to the wider discussions on the barriers and solutions to accessing workplace learning.

This tool kit is one part of the skill new zealand campaign, one step along the way to addressing skill needs in our country. Your continued interest in workplace learning and support for this initiative will help ensure that together we can create a better New Zealand.

Thank you for your time and your contribution.


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