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Cutbacks threaten training for the most vulnerable

MEDIA RELEASE

For immediate release

Wellington, Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Issued on the Authority of Commissioner Garth McKenzie (Territorial Commander) The Salvation Army, New Zealand Fiji & Tonga Territory

Cutbacks threaten training for the most vulnerable

The Salvation Army fears Tertiary Education Commission funding cuts to employment training programmes will hit the most economically vulnerable regions and disadvantage many unemployed trying to enter the work force.

Last week The Salvation Army was advised of a 15 per cent funding cut to its Employment Plus training programmes for 2009. This will mean closing courses across the country, including courses run through Employment Plus centres in Kaitaia, Tauranga, Te Aroha, Hastings, Whakatane, Feilding, Blenheim, Christchurch, Oamaru, Dunedin and Balclutha.

Salvation Army National Manager of Employment Plus George Borthwick said the reduced funding will exclude 264 people a year from Salvation Army Employment Plus training courses. Under the new funding regime, at least 13 Salvation Army tutor positions will be lost.

As Employment Plus overheads are already kept to the bare minimum, the new funding regime could put the entire nationwide programme in jeopardy, affecting almost 2000 trainees a year, Mr Borthwick said.

"But our greatest concern is that the cutbacks are sector-wide, and this means hundreds more will also miss out on improving their chances of getting work at a time when unemployment is rising," he said.

Mr Borthwick understands that some providers have been told their funding for 2009 will be cut by as much as a third.

These programmes are an investment in the economy and in our communities and the reduced funding will have a human cost. What is surprising is that this decision appears to be at odds with the Government?s concerns over workplace skills and with their stated desire to increase literacy and numeracy skills in the workforce, he said.

Mr Borthwick said he was disappointed with the lack of consultation prior to The Tertiary Education Commission's decision to reduce funding.

Salvation Army Employment Plus provides training for under-18s and those with low qualifications, assisting them into employment. The fully-accredited courses range from developing numeracy and literacy skills through to level-four trade certificates in sectors such as construction, engineering, heavy transport, farming, computing and hospitality.

ENDS


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