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Putting school vocational and trades training on the map

Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern

Prime Minister

Hon Chris Hipkins

Minister of Education

8 August 2019



Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today announced a new way to recognise and encourage new generations of builders, plumbers, software developers, agriculture and other trainees, with the launch of New Zealand’s first-ever student awards for trades training.

The Prime Minister’s Vocational Excellence Awards were launched at Hutt Valley High School and follows last week’s announcement of comprehensive reforms to the vocational education system.

“For too long trades and on-the-job skills training has played second fiddle in how we see success at school and later career choices,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“Going to university will always be a great way to further your career but vocational careers are equally as important, particularly given the huge skills shortages that exist across many industry sectors.

“This award celebrates achievement in vocational education in secondary schools and wharekura. It will, I hope, send a strong message about the value this government places on vocational education and encourage new generations of students and their families to recognise the exciting opportunities it presents.

“Secondary schools and wharekura can apply for a prize of $2000 to be awarded to their top vocational student. Funding is available for every secondary school in the country.

“We’re encouraging secondary schools to apply as soon as they can and include this award in their prize-givings for 2019.

Jacinda Ardern said New Zealand needs more apprentices and people training for industry jobs.

“We want students, with the help of whānau and teachers, to be planning their learning more strategically – to create clear pathways for themselves through school and on to further study, training or jobs in the workplace,” Jacinda Ardern said.

Vocational education is learning that has a special emphasis on the skills needed to do a specific job, or work in a specific industry.

The launch of the award comes a week after Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced Government decisions to comprehensively reform vocational education.

“Vocational education, trades training and on-the-job training have been allowed to drift for too long. These are long-term challenges that this government is committed to fixing,” Chris Hipkins said.

“We are strengthening the vocational education and training system and unifying it to respond better to the needs of New Zealand learners and employers.

“The changes will deliver more opportunities to improve people’s skills, no matter where they are in their education or career and support a growing economy that works for everyone.

“We’re also making significant changes to the NCEA to create strong pathways towards the trades and other vocational careers, and are well-underway with a redesign of the careers system to provide much better support in schools, much earlier in the lives of students,” Chris Hipkins said.


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