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Extra $197m for vocational education welcomed by business

The redirection of $197 million in funding into vocational education from the Government’s Fees Free programme is a very welcome move, says Wellington Chamber of Commerce.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson announced the reallocation when speaking to 250 business leaders at a pre-Budget event hosted by Wellington Chamber of Commerce at Parliament today. He said the reallocation was due to underspending on the Fees Free programme due to enrolments not meeting forecasts.

Chief Executive John Milford said business had always believed more could be done for vocational education.

"Don’t get me wrong - business loves university graduates. But it has become very clear in recent years that businesses are short of people with the skills that vocational training offers.

"We need the skills that university graduates offer, but more immediately we need more people in apprenticeships, trades, and workplace training, and I expect this reallocation to help greatly with that.

"Though we have yet to see the detail, I’m heartened by the Minister’s acknowledgment that we need vocational training to be ‘higher quality, more accessible, more coordinated, and more relevant to businesses and regions’.

"He also said the funding reprioritisation is an initial indication of the Government’s commitment to better equipping people with the skills business needs, so we look forward to seeing more initiatives in this direction in future.

"Business is ready, willing and able to play a big part in driving this reform, including by way of the Future of Work Forum."

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