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Trade training takes a backseat to education waste

Trade training takes a backseat to education waste

“Hundreds of young people and employers can’t start apprenticeships because of lack of government funding while Labour wastes millions on dodgy tertiary courses,” says National Party Education spokesman Bill English.

“Rationing is so tight in electrical trade training that some apprentices in Marlborough have been laid off until more public money comes available.

“This is ridiculous. There appears to be endless money for courses on self esteem, twilight golf and phantom computer courses, yet not enough for a young person to learn a trade.”

The electrical trades have seen an upsurge of interest, which began in the second half of last year.

“But because the government is spending millions on dodgy courses at the wananga and other polytechs, the electrical trades have had to stop taking on apprentices, and cap the number an employer takes on.

“The electrical trades training organisation has been trying to get the Government to respond since September last year, with no luck,” says Mr English, who has released a letter from Electrical Contractors Association today to support his claim.

“Labour’s priorities are all wrong. Because they have wasted hundreds of millions on dodgy courses, the country is missing the opportunity of a lifetime to attract young people into trades and train them properly.

“I want to see dodgy courses capped and apprenticeships open ended,” says Mr English.


11 February 2005

The Hon. Trevor Mallard Parliament Buildings Wellington

RE: Funding Crisis for Electrical Apprenticeships

Dear Minister,

You will be in receipt of a letter 10 February from the ETITO our Industry Training Organisation, further detailing a shortfall in funding for electrical apprentices.

ECANZ fully supports and endorses the content.

ECANZ is the organisation in New Zealand that represents electrical contractors, with some 1,543 members businesses that turnover $850million pa you will note that represents a significant component of NZ’s economy. Importantly our members install and maintain critical elements of the national electrical infrastructure. Members employ some 8,000 people including some 85% of all electrical apprentices – the “lifeblood” of our Industry.

Of real concern is that Government was advised in September that the crisis existed, August 2004 saw the ETITO due to a lack of funding put a halt to the allocation of “off-job” training – deferring placement till the 2005 calendar year. Today, six weeks into 2005 the Industry is unable to place any additional apprentices.

ECANZ has been a vocal supporter of the actions of your Government’s initiatives in the trade training area, in particular the introduction of the Modern Apprenticeship regime by your predecessor the Hon Steve Maharey. Minister, all this “good work” in the eyes of Industry has just been undone.

Presently Industry is in “over capacity” mode – we do not have enough skilled people – not only is work being turned away – some projects are not even commencing.

In the view of ECANZ, supported by economic “predictors” – the very buoyant activity Industry is experiencing at present is set to continue for at least an additional 24 months. Our Industry is obviously aware of the chronic shortfall and has been very active marketing to potential apprentices opportunities that “did” exist. Now we are in the sad situation of turning away those same young people.

This office has been inundated by calls from members completely frustrated at the situation demanding action from this office. We have deliberately held off to this point to enable our ITO to put Industry’s’ case to you. However we are unable to control separate approaches to media and/or Electorate MP’s.

An urgent audience is requested to further reinforce this letter and the ETITO call for additional resource.

Minister, thank you for your attention to this matter.

Yours sincerely


Copy: The Hon Helen Clark The Hon Paul Swain ECANZ Executive Council Marilyn Brady – ETITO CEO Murray Hobson – ETITO Chair

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