Apprentice boost appreciated

For Trades Apprenticeship Training Trust manager Matt Hogan and Business South director of...
For Trades Apprenticeship Training Trust manager Matt Hogan and Business South director of workforce and business development Grant Harrex. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
A Dunedin trust aimed at supporting apprentices into the workforce has received a funding boost.

For Trades Apprenticeship Training Trust received a $48,000 grant from the Otago Community Trust’s latest funding round to assist with growth costs.

The trust was set up 15 years ago by The Malcam Charitable Trust to support young people with realising their vocational ambitions.

It is managed under contract by Business South.

For Trades Apprenticeship Training currently employs about 42 apprentices who were placed with host businesses in their respective trades, such as building and engineering.

The trust managed the apprentices’ employment matters, such as payroll and performance reviews, and helped with the theory side of their training.

Business South director of workforce and business development Grant Harrex said the trust tried to take the ‘‘pain points’’ away for businesses.

Many host companies were small to medium-sized businesses and did not have the ‘‘background resources’’ to support apprentices.

‘‘That is where we step in and help out so the business can get on and teach while the apprentice can get on and learn,’’ he said.

Mr Harrex said they were ‘‘very thankful’’ to receive the grant, particularly as the trust looked to expand.

For Trades Apprenticeship Training was investing in new staff and two new software systems to streamline the human resources process.

The trust hoped to grow numbers to about 68 apprentices within the next year and the grant would go a long way to help achieve that, he said.

Most apprentices were in Dunedin and South Otago and it wanted to expand to the rest of the region.

There was a ‘‘real need’’ for staff in the trades throughout New Zealand and For Trades Apprenticeship Training was trying to help, Mr Harrex said.

‘‘Fabulous news’’ is how Southland and Otago Regional Engineering Collective chairman Gareth Evans described the Government’s decision to extend the Apprenticeship Boost Fund.

In a pre-Budget announcement this week, Minister of Education Chris Hipkins announced the Government was allocating $230million in trade training, which included the extension of the apprenticeship fund to the end of next year.

The collective had previously asked for the scheme to be extended, saying it would help ease a ‘‘chronic’’ labour shortage.

The scheme, which was due to run out in August, was set up nearly two years ago and aimed at supporting businesses to employ and retain apprentices who would eventually help the country’s Covid-19 economic recovery.

Mr Evans said it was good to see the Government making a long term difference rather than just reacting to Covid-19.

‘‘It shows a bit of strategic thought on their behalf.’’

With several large infrastructure projects, both nationally and in Dunedin such as the city’s hospital rebuild and roading projects in the North Island, getting under way, it was critical there were enough work-ready staff to do the job, he said.

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