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Modern apprenticeships central to industry plan

2000 web siteLabour Leader Helen Clark today told factory workers in Hamilton that Labour would boost industry in New Zealand with a smart, active approach to government which includes a new, modern apprenticeship scheme and a freeze on remaining tariffs.

In visits to an engineering firm and a clothing factory, Helen Clark said National's 1992 move to abolish the apprenticeship system had been an unmitigated disaster.

"The problems are obvious. There is no effective overall industry skills strategy for the nation. We are not training enough people in the skills that a knowledge based economy needs. Many manufacturers cannot recruit enough staff because of the shortage of trained workers.

"Yet many young people leaving school want to learn a trade and technical skills, but they find that avenue closed to them.

"Labour will introduce legislation for a Modern Apprenticeship Programme which will provide better opportunities for New Zealanders to gain national qualifications through work-based training. As well as helping people into training, we will assist employers by minimising the bureaucracy and costs associated with work-based training.

"If New Zealand is to build a strong economy, then core issues of education and training must be confronted. Our top priority has to be cutting the costs of education and training so that our young people get the skills they need in a modern economy built around knowledge, skill and technology."

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Helen Clark said that along with the modern apprenticeship initiative, Labour will introduce a proactive regional and business strategy.

"Central government will back regional efforts to generate growth strategies and industry clusters. Small business grants and development and venture capital will be available. And Labour will freeze remaining tariffs at year 2000 levels for at least five years, or until key trading partners match those levels.

"Labour, working in partnership with regional authorities and organisations throughout New Zealand, will provide a fresh start to build a modern economy and society with the benefits shared by all," Helen Clark said.

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