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Reinstate Paid Training To Address Chronic Workforce Shortages: The Call Is Loud And Clear

New Zealand’s teachers, nurses, and other essential workers are moving overseas in droves. Whether they’re chasing sun, sea, or salary – we are gifting Australia its workforce. That leaves Kiwis dealing with long wait times and inaccessible services. Training and retaining our domestic workforce must be a priority.

The Education Review Office’s new report states that the government needs to remove barriers to entering the teaching profession, through reducing costs and improving accessibility of training. They recommend “removing financial barriers for student teachers to participate in placement, for example through a placement allowance.” The Nurses Organisation are also calling for paid placements to combat ‘placement poverty’ and grow the workforce.

Just last week, the Australian government announced they will be introducing paid placements for teachers, nurses, midwives, and social workers as of 1 July 2025. This is following increasing international pressure to reinstate paid training to address global staffing shortfalls.

Paid Placements Aotearoa Campaign Lead, Bex Howells says, “If New Zealand wants to grow its workforce, it’s going to have to introduce paid training too. Scotland has done this with extraordinary success. Over the last decade, they have grown their nursing staff by 94.7% and midwives by 201%.”

Paid training in these professions used to be the norm but since training moved into universities, placements have been unpaid. Trainees must complete hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of compulsory unpaid placements to qualify as a teacher, nurse, doctor, social worker, or mental health professional. They cannot afford to work for free and they shouldn’t have to. New Zealand needs people in these professions and must incentivise training in essential services.

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“Ultimately, students deserve to live with dignity in training and New Zealanders deserve better access to services. There’s an abundance of evidence that paid training works and we must join this global call to action,” says Ms Howells.

Paid Placements Aotearoa will be delivering its petition for paid training to Parliament on 28 May at 12.30pm.

Note: Paid Placements Aotearoa is an advocacy group campaigning for paid training in registered professions such as healthcare, mental health, teaching, and social work. Their goal is sustainable workforce growth for accessible services and thriving communities.

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