January 29, 2003
Free market led to skills crisis - union
New Zealand has a shortage of skilled workers because of the policies championed by National’s Don Brash, says the country’s largest union.
“We told the National Government not to scrap the apprenticeship scheme in the early 1990s, but it went ahead and did it,” said EPMU national secretary Andrew Little.
“For Don Brash to try and lay the blame for the skills crisis at the feet of the Labour Government is sheer hypocrisy.”
Mr Little said blind faith during the 1980s and 1990s that the free market would provide for the needs of New Zealand - including a skilled work force - led the country into the current labour shortage.
“Telecom used to train telephone technicians,” he said. “It was sold, the telecommunications industry was deregulated and no more technicians were trained. Most telephone technicians are now in their 40s. Yes, we have a crisis, but it is one created by the free market.”
Mr Little said that the Labour Government had listened to the advice of workers and brought back apprenticeship training.