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New package to address skills shortages

28 September 2004

New package to address skills shortages

A package to help address New Zealand’s skills shortages and build skill levels in critical areas of the workforce was announced today by Prime Minister Helen Clark and Associate Education Minister Steve Maharey.

The Skills Package, aimed at enhancing education and training in the workforce, responds to demand from industry and employer groups facing significant skills shortages, said Helen Clark.

“Our strong economy and record low levels of unemployment have created skill shortages across a wide variety of industry and occupational areas. Many firms are reporting increasing difficulty in finding skilled labour. Demand for workplace training to upskill our workforce has increased significantly.

“The government has championed a range of activities to help address both immediate and future skills needs. This package will gain real traction on skills shortages issues in the short term and will help increase participation in workplace training in areas where it is most needed.”

The package includes:

Additional funding of approximately $8.9 million over the next four years to increase the rate of expansion of Modern Apprenticeships. This will provide for an additional 1,000 places this financial year, to bring the total number of Modern Apprenticeships to 8,500 by June 2005 (compared with the previous target of 8,000 by June 2006; there were 6,874 Modern Apprentices in June 2004). A one-off addition of $5 million to increase participation in industry training. This will provide for approximately 5,000 additional funded industry-training places during 2005. Provision has already been made for funding above this level in 2006 and beyond. $2 million to fund a pilot providing post-placement support and training for former Work and Income clients who have completed Training Opportunities (TO) study and entered work. The pilot will fund up to 250 TO graduates to obtain industry specific qualifications so they have better career and earning prospects.

Steve Maharey said industry training and Modern Apprenticeships have proved so successful that demand for both programmes has increased substantially across a range of industries.

“Part of the skills challenge includes increasing recruitment in industries that have skills shortages. The TO pilot will help address this issue by linking recent graduates with the Jobs Jolt Jobs Partnerships with Industry programme that now covers retail, hospitality, road construction and transport, and banking.

“Workplace learning is an important feature of our tertiary education system and plays a key role in responding to industry skill needs. This package demonstrates the government’s commitment to helping industry address skills issues where they occur – in the workplace.

“It is now up to industry and employers to step up to the challenge of investing in the skills of their workforce.”

The Skills Package was announced at Wellington’s Botanic Gardens, a major training ground for Modern Apprentices. The Parks and Gardens Department currently has eight Modern Apprentices and about 35 of the present staff have completed a horticultural apprenticeship. Two staff are dedicated to training and career development with one working solely with apprentices.

Note to media: Training Opportunities provides second chance learning to around 22,000 unemployed people each year who have low or no qualifications. Participants complete unit standards and credits towards many national qualifications recognised in the National Qualifications Framework. This includes those that link to industry specific qualifications.

Contacts: Kathryn Street (Helen Clark) 04-471 9477 or 021-511 669 Suzanne Pollard, Acting Press Secretary for Steve Maharey, 04-471 9154 or 021- 270 9115, email: michael.gibbs@parliament.govt.nz
Skills Package - Questions and Answers

What does the Skills Package include? The Skills Package has three components: an increase in the number of funded places in Modern Apprenticeships an increase in funded industry training places in 2005 post-placement support and training for Ministry of Social Development (MSD) clients.

Why has the Skills Package been introduced? Industry and employer groups are reporting ongoing skill shortages across a wide range of industry and occupational areas. The current skill shortage situation has been made more acute by a strong economy and record low unemployment. As a result, demand for workplace training to upskill the current workforce has increased significantly. The Skills Package, aimed at enhancing education and training in the workforce, responds to this demand for workplace learning and will alleviate some current and future skill shortages.

By what amount does the Skills Package increase funding for Modern Apprenticeships? The government has committed additional funding of approximately $8.9 million over the next four years to increase the rate of expansion of Modern Apprenticeships. This will provide for an additional 1,000 places this financial year to bring the total number of Modern Apprenticeships to 8,500 by June 2005 (compared with the previous target of 8,000 by June 2006; there were 6,874 Modern Apprentices in June 2004).

By what amount does the Skills Package increase funding for industry training? The government has committed additional one-off funding of $5.0 million to increase participation in industry training. This will provide for approximately 5,000 additional funded industry training places during 2005.

How will the Skills Package affect skills shortages? Modern Apprenticeships and industry training have an excellent track record of enhancing the development of skills and productivity in the New Zealand workforce. The increase in funding for these highly successful initiatives will gain traction on skills shortages issues in the short term and will help increase participation in workplace training in areas where it is most needed.

The MSD pilot will help address recruitment issues in some industries by linking recent Training Opportunities graduates with the Jobs Partnerships with Industry programme. This will ensure that trainees are assisted into formal industry training arrangements once in employment

What does the Skills Package mean for industry? The Package will support industries both to train their existing workforce and to recruit new employees knowing that there are training systems in place that can support their skill needs. Additional numbers of qualified tradespeople would be available in these industries once their qualifications are completed, above current levels of completions, which are also likely to increase in the meantime due to the increases in funding the government has provided over recent years.

Expanding Modern Apprenticeships and increasing industry training funding will increase the ability of industries to develop their skills base. Employers will be capable of planning with more certainty, knowing that the skilled workforce they require will be facilitated through options such as Modern Apprenticeships and industry training.

What does this mean for trainees? This Package further increases the opportunities for people in work and people transitioning from unemployment to employment to access workplace learning. It will provide access to industry qualifications for young people and the workforce generally. It will also help to reinforce apprenticeships as a pathway into a career for young people.

The MSD pilot will ensure that trainees are provided with post-placement support and training to aid their transition from unemployment to sustainable employment.

How many former Training Opportunites trainees do MSD plan to assist through this initiative? MSD are aiming to assist up to 250 trainees in this fiscal year.

How long is post placement support and training provided for? Up to six months.

Who will deliver post placement support and training? MSD will contract providers. They are likely to contract mainly with those providers who are delivering Industry Partnerships programmes now because of their close ties with both trainees and employers and strong Industry Training Organisation linkages.

Will this add to what Training Opportunities provides for trainees? Yes, this initiative will help more former TO trainees to progress from entry level work skills gained on TO through to taking up higher learning options such as apprenticeships. MSD has strong established relationships with employers and industry sectors. We are in a good position to use these connections to develop effective support and training frameworks for these trainees once they are in employment.

Who helps these trainees once they start apprenticeships or other formal industry training? Once a trainee is signed up to an Industry Training Agreement, Industry Training Organisations would manage support of the agreement.

Give an example of the types of training A trainee leaves TO with some unit standards towards a National Certificate in Retail and Warehousing. The Industry Partnership Retail programme provides the trainee with some retail training and places them into employment with a national retailer. The MSD skills package initiative would then assist the trainee to complete their National Certificate while working, then assist with other unit standards that allow the trainee to start a higher qualification (eg National Certificate in Retail Management).

Give an example of the support Literacy and numeracy support if required to complete written assignments and assessments. Regular meetings with the trainee to plan next steps of training, and discuss progress. This includes mentoring and support to address issues such as employment transition and balancing a new range of commitments.

ENDS


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