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Skills shortages legacy of visionless National

16 June 2005

Hon Jim Anderton MP, Progressive Leader

Skills shortages legacy of visionless National led coalition governments

National led coalition governments who scrapped apprenticeship schemes should take responsibility for the skills shortages we are experiencing now according to Progressive Leader Jim Anderton who spoke to the Industry Training Federation's political forum yesterday.

"I accept responsibility, as a member of the Labour Progressive coalition government for trying to solve the problem of skills shortages, but I am in no doubt about why we are dealing with this problem now.

"Visionless National led coalition governments scrapped our apprenticeship schemes under 'hands off', 'let the market rule' policies.

"Six years ago New Zealand faced desperate job shortages, particularly in the regions. Young people suffered a huge problem trying to find work. Now, we are experiencing almost equally desperate skills shortages which is a testament to the problems associated with a strong, growing regional and national economy.

"It is better to experience problems of growth than decline. However, we would not be experiencing the same extent of skills shortages if previous governments had not abandoned the apprenticeship schemes.

"New Zealand has one of the highest economic growth rates in the OECD, as well as one of the lowest unemployment rates.

"The Progressive Party supports doubling the number of industry trainees by 2007 and has been proud to be a member of the only coalition to introduce serious increases in apprenticeships and industry training," Jim Anderton said.

The Labour Progressive Coalition Government has vastly increased funding for industry training and apprenticeships. Funding in the 2004/05 year was $125 million (up from $56 million in 1999). In March 2005 there were 107,324 active industry trainees, an increase of 17 per cent on the previous year.

ENDS

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