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Budget boost for Northland skills

Budget boost for Northland skills

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Northland's workforce is set to get a major boost from a Budget 2006 initiative that will expand job training opportunities and strengthen workers' literacy skills.

Tertiary Education and Finance Minister Dr Michael Cullen has unveiled a $92 million package for industry training, modern apprenticeships and literacy, numeracy and language skills.

Labour MP Dover Samuels welcomed the extra funding as an important Labour-led government commitment to strengthen Northland's workforce.

At the end of 2005, the Northland region had 588 Modern Apprentices and 4,522 people in Industry Training programmes, while Gateway helped 988 regional secondary school students into jobs or tertiary training.

"This is a strong investment in one of Northland's best resources - it's people - and ensures that we continue to contribute to our economy's transformation," said Dover Samuels.

"Between 2000 and 2005, the government helped over 13,000 students across New Zealand through the Gateway programme, doubled the number of people in Industry Training to 161,676 and quadrupled Modern Apprenticeships to 8,388."

The Budget 2006 package includes:

· A total $58 million over four years to expand jobs training including:

o $34.4m to expand Modern Apprentice places to 14,000 by December 2008

o $15.6m to boost Industry Training funding to $146.5m in 2007 - 150 per cent more than in 2000.

o $8.1m to extend the popular school-based job pathway programme Gateway to include all state and integrated secondary schools, as it was previously only available to Decile 1-6 schools.

· Another $33.5 million will be spent over four years on programmes to improve low literacy, numeracy and language skills in the workforce.

"Some 330,000 New Zealanders have very low literacy and numeracy skills, so this Budget funding is significant, particularly for our Maori and Pacific people who are over-represented in these statistics," Dover Samuels said.

ENDS

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