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Return of the Maori Affairs Trade Trainee Program a must

Return of the Maori Affairs Trade Trainee Program a must if the Government is going to meet infrastructure demands – New Zealand Maori Council

The New Zealand Maori Council is calling for the return of the old Maori Affairs Trade Trainee program saying that a plan was needed now to ensure that infrastructure demand was meet with skills and trained people. Councils Executive Director, Matthew Tukaki, who also Chairs the Councils national taskforce on access to industry and employment and who is also the former head of the worlds oldest and one of the largest employment companies, Drake International, has said there is a unique opportunity to lift the skills base, respond to infrastructure demand and also lift wage growth:

“The governments announcement that billions will be driven into infrastructure over the next decade belies the fact we need to ensure we grow the skills base as opposed to get into a position where we have few skills and then have to fall to the default position of having to import labor. Over many decades we had just a plan and that was the old Ministry of Maori Affairs Trade Trainee program. That program trained an army of Maori tradies from brickies and glaziers to plumbers and gas fitters, roofers and more – over the year that targeted approach has tapered off and yet we have this amazing opportunity. You cannot build anything without the skills base.” Tukaki said

“We also have a chance to redefine the trades in Aotearoa – and add things that will bolster the digital economy and our peoples access to those roles from coders to software developers. Just as we are going to build infrastructure from roads and bridges so too can come the technology that runs and manages it. Essentially what this does is provide a greater opportunity to lift wage growth and by doing that we can do more to break the circuit of intergenerational poverty.” Tukaki said

“But we have to act now – the unemployment rate is sitting just over 4% and according to Stats NZ we have 115,000 recogised as unemployed. Then there are those of our people who are non- qualification roles, Maori living overseas who are essentially propping up the Australia infrastructure and construction sector – this is why have a cohesive work force plan that takes all of these moving parts into place is key – and we know what works – the old Maori Affairs Trade Trainee Program.” Tukaki said

“At the beginning of 2020 we will be releasing an update to our national program around the future of work and this is a central pillar. I have already mentioned the return of the program to Deputy Prime Minister, Winston Peters, earlier this week and I do expect that the Government needs to take a close a look at a suite of measures Council is putting forward otherwise all the infrastructure spend in the world will not matter if we just do not have the skills base to meet the demand.” Tukaki said.


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