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Trades and Apprenticeship package a boost for regions

UCOL Chief of Operations Dr Linda Sissons

The $1.6 billion Trades and Apprenticeships Training package announced in the Government’s May budget provides a real opportunity for UCOL to play an increasing role in training more people into skilled jobs in its regions, and supporting businesses post-COVID-19.

UCOL has assembled a team to examine the details behind the government’s package, and importantly, to work with industries, employers and government agencies in the Manawatū, Horowhenua, Wairarapa, and Whanganui to identify employment and training gaps and opportunities.

UCOL will work with local industries and employers to make sure that all new initiatives under this trades and apprenticeships training package meet their labour force needs.

UCOL Chief of Operations, Dr Linda Sissons, says UCOL will work alongside industry training organisations, the new Workforce Development Councils, Iwi, and Ministry of Social Development as well as economic development agencies.

“We want to work with them as we go through this pandemic, to understand what the employment opportunities are expected to be in the next 6, 12, 24 months and plan accordingly. All initiatives must have strong employment outcomes and boost opportunities for our local people, including those whose jobs have been affected by the pandemic.”

“This package potentially gives more people in our region the opportunity to train into jobs where there are skills shortages. We are keen to develop new programmes in areas such as logistics, infrastructure and transport, plumbing, and gas fitting, for example. “

“The training could include a mix of on-the-job, on-line and face-to-face teaching, for a number of weeks, months or years depending on the nature of the skills required. We are flexible in our approach to designing what is needed, and will develop or acquire products that meet the needs identified.”

The training could, for example, boost the labour force required for Te Ahu a Turanga : the Manawatū Tararua highway, and the Future of Rail strategy which includes provision for maintenance and renewal of the rail network (passenger and freight). Expected benefits to the regions include more skilled people available, more employment, and a reduction in regional unemployment.

Early figures indicate that the polytechnic sector as a whole could experience short term growth in 2021 and 2022, and UCOL is committed to sustaining that growth across all the wider Manawatū, Whanganui, Horowhenua and Wairarapa Regions.

“The offer of no fees, and fees free trades training, will enable people who may be considering changing jobs to gain new skills, and study at an institution like UCOL that is known for its quality teaching and strong student support, the chance to do so,” says Dr Sissons.

This package gives UCOL the potential to increase capacity and broaden programmes to meet the needs of regional industries.

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