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Trades training boosted under Labour-led Govt

21 September 2008 Speech Notes

Embargoed until:2pm

Trades training boosted under Labour-led Govt

Speech by Hon Trevor Mallard to WorldSkills National Competition Awards Ceremony, Banquet Hall, Parliament.

Good afternoon. It is a pleasure for me to host these awards and acknowledge the contribution that all of the competitors, your families and supporters, and WorldSkills New Zealand make to trade training in this country.

Congratulations on your achievements, especially to those of you who have succeeded in your events, and who are going to Canada to represent New Zealand at the World Skills championships next year.

Competitions like WorldSkills are fantastic at showing off the skills of our future industry leaders, and reminding us of how quickly workplaces evolve to meet future skills needs.

I commend Peter Spencer and his team at WorldSkills New Zealand on your work, and Linda Sissons and Weltec for hosting the event.

Advances in technology have certainly revolutionised industry and the trades, making it crucial for young people embarking on a career in this area to have quality training experience in the workplace.

This is something our government has recognised. We have trebled the funding for WorldSkills New Zealand over the past year.

You will also have seen our commitment to future generations of tradespeople through our Schools Plus policy and the New Zealand Skills Strategy.

Both are critical plans for the future and build on Labour's achievements and innovations to date in this vitally important area.

The primary goal of Schools Plus is to encourage young people to stay in structured learning longer and complete their initial qualifications. These are the qualifications that open doors and create options in later life – and are so important to a successful trades career today.

While Schools Plus will support our young people moving from school into the workplace, the New Zealand Skills Strategy will support those who are already in work.

The Skills Strategy is multifaceted as there are some quite fundamental issues that we need to make progress on, if New Zealand is to remain a global player and our standards of living are to be improved across the board.

The Industry Training Federation is a social partner on this work, and Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics will also provide many of the solutions to our skills challenges. This underscores the importance of trades training to raising our future skill levels.

I am proud of the progress our government under Helen Clark's leadership has made in increasing the number of people in trade training. At the end of March this year, there were more than 133,000 people in some form of industry training. This figure represents a seven per cent increase on the figure from the same time in 2007.

What’s more, in Budget 2008, the Labour-led government increased funding for industry training by $42.5 million over the next four years, to ensure more people have the opportunity to participate in this type of training

After apprenticeships were scrapped by National the last time they were in government, Labour introduced the Modern Apprenticeships programme in 2001. On 31 March this year, there were more than 11,500 people doing a modern apprenticeship across 30 different industries.

That is an 18 per cent increase on the same time a year ago so the progress we have been making – and intend to continue making - is clear.

Our government is well aware of the importance of literacy and numeracy skills, and is working with the groups that provide your training to ensure you have opportunities to continue to build skills in these areas, while you build your career in your chosen trade.

This activity is one of many initiatives that fit under the New Zealand Skills Strategy.

In summary, government is working in partnership with employers, unions and the tertiary education sector to develop ways to increase productivity in New Zealand, while at the same time providing people young and a bit older with more opportunities to develop new skills and embark on a rewarding trades career.

Occasions such as this are important as they provide an opportunity for government, industry, trades and tertiary education representatives to come together with the people that do the actual training to celebrate their achievement and success.

The WorldSkills event this weekend is a healthy reminder of what it is all about – creating opportunities for people to be successful in the trade of their choice so they in turn can earn higher wages and have better living standards for their families.

That is at the heart of our government's work over the last nine years and at the heart of our plans for the future.

It is so heartening to see the success that everybody here today represents. I wish all medal recipients the very best in their future endeavours.

I am positive you are on the right path for success in your chosen fields. And to the Tool Blacks, I’m sure that you’ll follow-on from the example set by our mighty All Blacks last week in doing New Zealand proud.

ENDS

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