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Government puts the squeeze on skills shortages

31 August 2006

Government puts the squeeze on skills shortages

The government's labour market and employment policies are to thank for New Zealand achieving record low unemployment and reducing skills shortages at the same time, Social Development and Employment Minister David Benson-Pope said today.

The Department of Labour's Skills in the Labour Market report, released today, shows that skills shortages have fallen sharply over the past year and a half, to the lowest level since 1999.

In March 2005, 26% of businesses said shortage of labour was their main constraint on expansion. In June 2006, that figure had fallen to 15%.

Mr Benson-Pope said this was testament to the value of the Labour-led government's investment in initiatives like industry training, Gateway, Modern Apprenticeships, and Industry Partnerships.

"This Labour-led government works closely with industry, employers, and unions to develop and deliver the training needed for the highly skilled workforce that underpins economic transformation," Mr Benson-Pope said.

"Modern Apprenticeships recently celebrated the 2000th apprentice to complete training, while over 6,000 businesses are offering workplace learning to Gateway students. Funding in Budget 2006 is extending Gateway to all state and integrated schools of decile 7 and above."

"That we have achieved record low unemployment of 3.6% while also seeing the skills gap shrink is an absolute endorsement of these initiatives."

Mr Benson-Pope said that with the evidence that high unemployment is a thing of the past, government plans to continue building productivity in the existing workforce and attracting highly skilled migrants to New Zealand.



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