Training providers given funding for six months

Otago providers of Government-funded training are relieved to be included in a new model, after fearing the loss of contracts to large city-based organisations.

In September the Government announced it was scrapping its foundation-focused training opportunities (FFTO) programme, which delivered training to beneficiaries and others deemed most likely to need long-term welfare support.

It aimed to get more people into work but had little success nationwide.

The six FFTO providers in Otago bemoaned the loss of the programme at the time, unsure about whether they would receive Government funding through the new regime.

FFTO had been worth an estimated $1.5 million to the region, and its demise represented a potential loss of 15 fulltime jobs and 300 student places.

When the Government announced its replacement scheme, it refused to confirm whether the $20 million in funding would be distributed in the same way throughout the country.

Otago providers had anecdotal evidence the funding would be allocated to Auckland, Christchurch and North Island regions.

They were left scrambling to secure contracts for the new training programme through the Tertiary Education Commission.

Doubt was cast over the viability of Otago's training organisations and staff.

Dunedin Training Centre manager Callum Hayde said he had to make some ''changes'' to his staffing levels, although he would not disclose details.

He said the centre had secured Government funding for two new 13-week programmes, which meant operations would continue until June.

The centre's future beyond then depended on whether funding continued, Mr Hayde said.

''We have less funding, although some of the initial concern has been alleviated. We are still concerned there isn't any longer-term training, which provides the best opportunity for people to gain skills and re-enter the workforce, but we have to take what we're offered,'' he said.

''It remains to be seen later in the year if this funding continues.''

Tokomairiro Training Centre manager Lynda Allan said she was optimistic about the continued provision of work-readiness training in the area.

She had also secured funding for two 13-week programmes, as well as additional places in a youth guarantee programme.

''We're not exactly sure what will happen after the six months but I do believe if we can produce the outcomes, it will be OK. We went from feeling uncertain about our future to feeling very positive,'' she said.

Continued funding would hinge on the next Budget and the next general election, she said.

''There is a lot of unknowns there, but at least we've got six months' funding, which is our saviour.''


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