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Jump In Apprentice And Trainee Numbers

Hon Chris Hipkins

Minister of Education

The number of New Zealanders taking up apprenticeships has increased nearly 50 percent, and the number of female apprentices has more than doubled. This comes as a Government campaign to raise the profile of vocational education and training (VET) begins.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced the campaign at Mulcahy Engineering and Fabrication this afternoon.

“The first phase of the VET marketing campaign includes social media influencer activity targeted at school leavers and learners under the age of 25, and radio announcer adlibs aimed at starting meaningful conversations about vocational education and training in the community,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said.

“The second phase of the campaign, set to begin next month, will include TV, radio and social media ads, digital displays and online videos.

“Vocational education and training plays a key role in New Zealand’s recovery from COVID-19. We know that many New Zealanders will be looking to retrain, and employers in key sectors will need more skilled people.

“The marketing campaign is supported by a range of initiatives put in place by the Government earlier this year to get more people into training and apprenticeships.

“We launched a $320 million free Targeted Training and Apprenticeship Fund (TTAF) which makes all apprenticeships, as well as, certificates, diplomas and programmes in targeted industries, free for New Zealanders of all ages from 1 July 2020. This is targeted towards industries where demand will continue to be strong as we recover from COVID-19.

“Since we made all apprenticeships free in July this year, close to 14,000 new apprentices have started an apprenticeship nationwide, up from about 7,500 in the same period in 2019. Since July, more than 17,000 learners have also begun TTAF programmes in industries critical to our economic recovery. That’s compared with 12,800 learners enrolled in in the same window in 2019.

“In addition, the Government also launched the $380 million Apprenticeship Boost fund which supports employers to retain and take on new apprentices, to help ensure New Zealand has a pipeline of skilled workers, and to avoid shortages in the future.

“These are extremely encouraging signs given the historical perception of vocational careers. Based on these numbers and research* by the Tertiary Education Commission, New Zealanders’ views on vocational education and training are shifting.

“This is important because we know employers in key industries will need more skilled people. That’s why we have targeted our free trades training towards industries where demand is expected to grow.

“I also want to note that the number of female apprentices who started an apprenticeship more than doubled — increasing to 1,785 from 845 in the same period last year.

“It’s a welcome development to see more women going into these traditionally male-dominated industries. But I acknowledge that there’s still a long way to go,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said.

Notes –

What we’ve already done to put vocational education and trades training on the map to ensure we have a good pipeline of skilled workers as we rebuild from COVID-19:

· Increased Trades Academy and Gateway places by 2000 per programme from the start of this year

· Started the Prime Minister’s Vocational Excellence Award for all secondary schools

· Supported employers to retain and take on new apprentices through the Apprenticeship Boost scheme

· Made targeted training and apprenticeships free from 1 July this year.

How many have benefited from these initiatives:

· Since the launch of free apprenticeships scheme, close to 14,000 new apprentices started an apprenticeship programme, up from about 7,500 in the same period in 2019.

· The number of female apprentices more than doubles in the same period from 845 last year to almost 1,800.

· The Government has paid out more than $33 million to more than 5,700 employers of apprentices as part of Apprenticeship Boost. The initiative has helped close to 13,000 apprentices stay or get into an apprenticeship as firms deal with the effects of COVID-19.

*According to research commissioned earlier this year by the Tertiary Education Commission, culturally, VET has long been seen as an inferior option to university and these perceptions persist today. These perceptions are driven by historical structures and reinforced by modern media and school cultures. While the majority of people have heard of VET most lack the understanding of the full breadth of options. This mindset leads many people to think of VET as a lesser choice. Although stigma persists, overall perceptions of VET appear to be slowly changing, driven by a number of cultural shifts.

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