Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern says the Government’s Apprenticeship Boost programme has reached a significant milestone, supporting over 50,000 apprentices to move into or retain their trade.
The Prime Minister said the Government had been deliberate in its approach to support people into jobs or on pathways into education and training.
“The fact that unemployment is at a near record low, and with economic activity continuing to grow, it’s clear that our plan is working,” Ms Ardern said.
“Labour has backed apprentices and has been single minded in our focus of keeping New Zealanders in work and training during the COVID-19 economic shock.
“We knew that in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis, under National apprentice enrolments plumeted. In contrast under this Government, including through the pandemic, we’ve overseen a significant increase.
“We’ve taken every opportunity to make investments that secure both our recovery from COVID-19 and our future, while also responding to the most pressing issues facing many New Zealanders.”
Prime Minister Ardern launched the Apprenticeship Boost package alongside Ministers’ Chris Hipkins and Carmel Sepuloni two years ago and said it was heartening to see the impact it has had in helping deliver key infrastructure projects and bolstering the nation’s construction workforce.
“Programmes like Apprenticeship Boost, Mana in Mahi, He Poutama Rangatahi and Māori Trades and Training have all been pivotal in keeping people in jobs and supporting employers to invest in jobseekers. These investments continue to be key to unlocking the potential of Kiwis, the workforce and our economy,” Ms Ardern said.
“Apprenticeships has been a top priority for our Government as we get Kiwis work-ready, plug skills shortages and meet the needs of industries,” said Minister Hipkins.
“50,000 apprentices supported through Apprenticeship Boost is further proof of the record numbers of apprentices who are already learning their trade whilst working on the job. This shows that our education, employment and training system is in a good position, supported by programmes like Apprenticeship Boost,” he said.
“We’ve purposefully set out to increase the number of apprentices as a way to support businesses to keep and increase their apprentice numbers, fill skill shortages and retrain those who lost work as a result of COVID-19.”
Mr Hipkins said the Government’s focus is also on the long-term sustainability of the workforce and understanding what training is needed to meet the workforce’s needs.
“That’s why we’ve funded the Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation to develop a forecasting tool that displays national and regional skills gaps and surpluses within the construction and infrastructure labour market,” he said.
“Apprenticeship Boost is a cornerstone of the Government’s Apprenticeship Support Programme as we deliver key infrastructure projects, increase our housing stock and supply, and build the workforce needed to take us forward with our recovery.”
Minister Sepuloni said she was pleased that Apprenticeship Boost, administered by the Ministry for Social Development, was supporting employers and keeping Kiwis working.
“Apprenticeship Boost is continuing to help keep our economy ticking by keeping apprentices connected to work, training and their communities. The support provided through the scheme is critical to ensuring that our people and businesses develop the skills needed for our economic recovery and rebuild,” she said.
“Over 113,000 people exited benefit to go into work over the last 12 months, which is a reflection of the suite of employment products and training programmes that we’ve got in place.
“A highlight of the scheme is the 19% of Māori apprentices who are participating, and who make up 17% of the overall population. With Māori unemployment at 5.5%, the lowest since records began, our focus on providing targeted and wrap-around support is paying dividends.
“Flexi-wage has also been pivotal in supporting job seekers who are disadvantaged in the labour market, and we’ve also now got in place seven Employment Action Plans to address barriers and challenges for groups that have experienced poorer employment outcomes in the past.
“Ensuring all New Zealanders have the opportunity to earn and learn is not only good for them, their wellbeing and whānau, but it’s good for our country as a whole. We’ll continue to create and invest in these opportunities as we build a productive economy and secure our recovery from COVID-19,” Ms Sepuloni said.