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Budget 2006: Improving skills of the workforce

Hon Dr Michael Cullen
Minister for Tertiary Education

Improving skills of the workforce

Budget 2006 provides $33.5 million over the next four years towards improving the literacy, numeracy and language skills of the workforce.

Some 330,000 New Zealanders have very low literacy and numeracy skills and Mâori and Pacifika people are over-represented in this group.

“All adults need to have adequate literacy, numeracy and language skills to fully participate in society. Low achievement in these areas makes it harder for businesses to improve work practices to lift productivity and harder for workers to get ahead. It is vital we do much better and we are determined to make a difference," Tertiary Education Minister Dr Michael Cullen said today.

“Over the next four years, this new funding will continue the progress we have already made in working with industry training organisations to improve the foundation skills of people employed at the low-skill end of the work force."
In 2006/07, the focus will be on developing ways of motivating and assisting New Zealanders to take up and continue training in literacy, numeracy and language.

“This increase in funding means that, by 2009/10, about 20 industry training organisations could be participating in this programme and 8,950 trainees a year will be funded to improve their literacy, numeracy and language skills as part of their training.”

This funding will be available from 1 July 2006 to:

• Improve workplace practices so more employers and workers can access suitable training (a total of $7.5 million over three years).

• Expand the number of professional development clusters for training providers and tutors in the Learning for Living exploratory projects from six to 10 so they can provide more effective literacy, numeracy and language training in a number of settings; and fund 200 additional study grants to increase the number of fully qualified adult literacy tutors (a total of $7.7 million over four years).

• Fund 200 additional study grants to increase the number of fully qualified adult literacy tutors ($2.4 million over three years).

• Further integrate literacy, numeracy and language training with industry training (a total of $15 million over four years).

• Increase the quality of training by supporting some 220 providers to meet the Foundation Learning Quality Assurance requirements (a total of $900,000 over four years).

“Government agencies are working together with businesses, unions, community groups and training providers to provide foundation training that will enable all New Zealanders to gain the skills they need to ensure employment, now and in the future.

“These initiatives underline the Labour-led government's commitment to building a skilled and productive workforce that can contribute to the social and economic development of New Zealand," Dr Cullen concluded.

ENDS

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