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Cullen: Nelson Industry Training Graduation

Hon Dr Michael Cullen
Deputy Prime Minister, Attorney-General, Minister of Finance, Minister for Tertiary Education, Leader of the House

12 July 2006 Speech Notes

Embargoed until: Wednesday 12 July 2006 at 4.00pm

Address to the Nelson Industry Training Graduation

Seifried’s Winery, Appleby, Nelson

Mayor of Nelson, Paul Matheson, Tasman District Mayor, John Hurley, industry training graduates, tutors, families and friends.

It is a real pleasure for me to be here, to celebrate the success of those graduating today.

Industry training graduations are a fairly recent initiative of the Mayors’ Taskforce for Jobs and the Skill New Zealand Campaign. These ceremonies recognise the hard work and achievements of Industry Trainees and Modern Apprentices, and they reinforce the importance of trades training as a successful tertiary education pathway.

One of the many positive aspects of my job as Minister for Tertiary Education is being invited to share in the success of trainees and tertiary organisations throughout the country.

The trades represented amongst those graduating today range from construction to hairdressing. I am assured that those organising today’s event have double checked the certificates, so that the salons and building sites of the Nelson region will get the right graduates turning up for work tomorrow morning.

The industry training system has in the last few years become an enormously valuable means by which to upskill New Zealanders. The system identifies the skill needs of industry and develops innovative ways to meet those needs within timeframes that are meaningful to employers.

Last year alone, more than 160,000 trainees participated in industry training. New Zealand workplaces have become a lively, alternative place of learning over the past few years.

We are all winners as a result. Industry training has the potential to unlock extra productivity, providing New Zealand businesses with the edge they need to compete and succeed, and providing New Zealand workers with stimulating careers and expanded employment options.

The last six years have seen spectacular growth in Industry Training, from 81,343 trainees in 2000 to 161,610 trainees in 2005, an increase of 99 percent. At the same time, the Modern Apprenticeships programme continues to thrive, with 8,838 Modern Apprentices as at 31 March 2006, and a current target for 14,000 Modern Apprentices by December 2008.

The Nelson, Tasman, and Marlborough communities have risen to the challenge of Industry Training and Modern Apprenticeships. Participation has continued to rise steadily, and from 31 March 2004 to 31 March 2005 Industry Trainees, including Modern Apprentices, rose from 5,039 to 5,494. During this period, Modern Apprentices grew from 426 to 449.

We need to remember that these increases demonstrate a joint commitment by government and industry. The government contribution has increased significantly over recent years, as employers have come on board in larger numbers. With the increases I announced in Budget 2006, the Industry Training Fund will have reached approximately $146 million in 2007, an increase of approximately 150 percent from the $59 million in 2000.

In addition, in Budget 2006 I announced a further $34.4 million over four years to expand the number of Modern Apprenticeships. By 2008/09 funding for Modern Apprenticeships will have increased to over $50 million.

Numbers alone do not prove the health of the system. The challenge for us all is making sure the sector remains vibrant, is hooked into the needs of learners, employers and communities, and that it is set up to ensure training meets the needs of those who seek it, while at the same time offering value for money.

These are issues we are addressing across the whole of the tertiary education system. We need a culture of continuous challenge and improvement if the tertiary education sector is to play the pivotal role we need it to play in New Zealand’s economic development.

So far the results have been impressive, and of course that is what we are celebrating today for those graduating. I wish all the best for your personal and professional futures.

You should all be very proud of your achievement.

Thank you.


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