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Dept of Labour, NZ Army upskilling partnership

Hon Maryan Street
Associate Minister for Tertiary Education

5 May, 2008 Speech

The upskilling partnership between the Department of Labour and the NZ Army.

Speech delivered by Associate Tertiary Education Minister Maryan Street at Defence House, Wellington

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa. Thank you to the New Zealand Army for inviting me to speak today. I too am looking forward to seeing the results of this exciting partnership.

This kind of initiative reflects the broader work being undertaken by government to address literacy, language and numeracy gaps in our workforce.

Like many other countries, New Zealand has a significant number of workers who need better literacy skills to make our workplaces more productive. This government wants to invest in those already at work, or preparing for work, to make sure this happens.

We have already established programme pilots like the Upskilling Partnership Programme and a number of other initiatives to learn more about raising New Zealanders’ basic skills.

In consultation with Business New Zealand, the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions and the Industry Training Federation, we have developed a coordinated strategy to address these issues in the workplace.

The strategy aims to build demand for literacy and numeracy skills, as well as building the supply of opportunities in the workplace to learn such skills. It also focuses on helping providers to supply this type of training.

We will work with employers and providers to boost the number of opportunities to learn literacy skills. We will help providers to raise their expertise in this area.

And we will work to raise awareness regarding the benefits of improved literacy, language and numeracy in the workplace. A programme of research and evaluation will continue to support these three priorities of building supply, capability and demand.

I am impressed by the way that this partnership involving the Department of Labour’s Upskilling Programme Office, the Manukau Institute of Technology and the New Zealand Army touches on all three of these priorities.

The Army is one of the first employers in New Zealand to trial the use of a literacy, language and numeracy screening tool. This, together with an assessment tool, will help employers identify and address the literacy needs of their employees.

Army tutors are undergoing training to be qualified in delivering this kind of skills training to service members. In this way, the Army is building its own capability as a training organisation and adding to the overall supply of learning opportunities in this country.

The evaluation of this Upskilling Partnership Programme will focus on the tangible outcomes for the Army and your service members. You will provide the evidence that will help create awareness and build demand for this type of training in New Zealand.

It takes time to change basic skill levels. There has been a trend towards better literacy in New Zealand over recent years. With partnerships like this one being launched today, I am confident that we will improve further.

Thank you. Kia ora.


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