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Support For Automotive Apprentices Only Part Of The Solution

The Motor Trade Association has welcomed news that the fees and associated costs for the New Zealand Apprenticeship in Automotive Engineering (Light Vehicle) will qualify for fees support from the Government.

But it says while today’s announcement was a win for apprentices, it was disappointed the review of vocational training hadn’t recognised the importance of also supporting employers.

“The main hurdle for small businesses taking on an apprentice is the overhead cost of the employer-teacher training the learner in the workplace-classroom,” MTA CE Craig Pomare said today.

He said the MTA called on the government to look further at direct support to employers to cover the employment costs of learners.

“This support would not only cover the actual wage costs of the learner, but the time and resources of the employer through mentoring and supervision by other staff, rework of substandard output, and lost revenue opportunities due to time spent on supervision and monitoring of the trainee,” he said.

Mr Pomare said it is especially important that automotive technology skills were prioritised as the New Zealand vehicle fleet become more and more complex.

“As well as the complexity, we’ve seen the national average rate of WOF failures rise to 41% in 2019, and the share of fatal crashes with a contributing vehicle factor rise to 15 percent. The Government has committed to doing more to improve road safety and maintaining our growing fleet is a road safety imperative.”

Mr Pomare said around half of vehicle owners did little or no maintenance of their vehicle between WOF inspections.

“It is absolutely necessary that there are skilled automotive technicians available locally to ensure the safe operation of cars on New Zealand roads,” he said.

“As the average age of workers and business owners in the automotive sector approaches 55, it is critical to ensure we are training new, skilled automotive technicians to replace this soon-to-retire segment of the industry.

“So while today’s news is welcomed it will have limited to zero impact unless those small businesses are given the support to take on an apprentice.”

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