The Government has announced a major revamp of the
apprenticeship system in New Zealand with financial
incentives for employers and workers to participate.
Prime Minister John Key yesterday devoted much of his state
of the nation speech to committing the Government to a wide
range of measures to build a more productive and competitive
The details of the scheme were left for Tertiary Education,
Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce to announce.
Among the measures announced was giving the first 10,000
apprentices who enrolled after April 1 this year $1000
towards their tools and off-job course costs, or $2000 if
they were in priority construction trades. The same amount
would also be paid to employers.
Competition would be increased by allowing employers direct
access to industry training funding.
''This is a big opportunity over the next few years,
particularly with the rebuilding of Christchurch, to train
more New Zealanders in vocational careers that will set them
up well for their working lives.''
From January 1, the Modern Apprenticeships scheme and other
apprentice-type training would be combined under an expanded
scheme called New Zealand Apprenticeships. The new
apprenticeships would provide the same level of support, and
the same level of subsidy, for all apprentices, regardless of
The current top-up for Modern Apprentices would be
redistributed across all apprentices. In addition, overall
subsidy payments would be increased by about $12 million in
the first year, rising over time.
At a minimum, the educational content of apprenticeships
would be lifted requiring at least 120 credits that resulted
in a level four qualification.
Mr Joyce said the changes announced were being funded from
the money the Government had saved by tightening up the
industry training system to remove ''tens of thousands of
phantom trainees'' who were not earning any credits.
By rebooting apprenticeships, the Government estimated there
would be an additional 14,000 new apprentices starting
training over the next five years - over and above the 7000
who enrolled every year.
The industry training review was held because although
Government funding for the programmes had trebled, the value
for money had been poor with qualification completions and
credit attainment very low, Mr Joyce said.
In 2008, 96,831 people being funded to participate in
industry training did not achieve a single credit. In 2009,
the same figure was 100,801. Audits of ITOs in 2009 and 2010
also revealed the Government had been subsidising a
significant number of trainees who were not eligible for
funding under the existing funding rules.
''In response to these issues, the funding rules were
tightened and monitoring was increased. Qualification and
credit attainment in industry training has improved as a
The total cost over four years will be about $106 million,
made up of about $12 million a year for the increased
apprenticeship funding, $7.5 million a year for the increased
industry training subsidy, and $28 million for the reboot
programme. All of the costs were being funded from industry
training fund baselines and the industry training contingency
established in Budget 2012.
BusinessNZ chief executive Phil O'Reilly said the increased
funding and focus on apprenticeships was the right approach.
''It will be important for these changes in apprenticeships
to be executed well. Employers want quality apprenticeship
training,'' he said.
Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei was left underwhelmed by
Four years ago, Mr Key was promising a brighter future. Now,
he was making ''faded old excuses'' and defending his failure
on jobs, she said.
Council of Trade Unions secretary Peter Conway said the
announcement was a good start but a drop in the bucket. It
would not solve New Zealand's job crisis.
Higher subsidy skills
Construction: Carpentry, painting, decorating, plastering,
steel fixing, concreting, plumbing, gas fitting, drain
laying, roofing, scaffolding, rigging, joinery, brick and
block laying, paving, tiling, masonry, construction.
Infrastructure: Plant operator, road construction and
maintenance, bituminous surfacing, foundation works, pipe
laying, bridge construction and maintenance, engineering
(highways), quantity surveying.
Engineering: Boiler making, welding, sheet metal working,
diesel fitting, fitting and turning, civil engineering,
mechanical engineering, fabrication.
Electro-technology: Electricity supply (electronics and
communication), instrumentation and control, refrigeration
and air conditioning, electrical engineering.