The Minister of Education Chris Hipkins has announced the detail of a $320m Targeted Training and Apprenticeships Fund (TTAF) designed to support vocational training across high-demand industries. This funding forms part of the $1.6b trades and apprenticeships training package recently announced in the 2020 Budget.

Jane Wenman, Chief Executive of Industry Training Organisation Careerforce, welcomed the announcement. “The health and wellbeing sectors continue to face workforce shortage challenges, brought about by an aging and increasingly diverse population, and an associated aging workforce in many areas. This is being exacerbated by COVID-19-related immigration restrictions. Any Government funding that will support new people into the sector, and remove any barriers to workforce development is welcomed.”

Wenman was also pleased to see the health and wellbeing shortages specifically recognised by the Government announcement, with community support (including youthwork, aged care, community health, and mental health and addiction) highlighted as a specifically targeted area for the fund. “We’re excited about rolling this out across our sectors, and expect our perennially financially constrained stakeholders to be likewise.”

From 1 July 2020, the fund will remove programme costs for learners, apprentices and employers, for eligible programmes for the next two and a half years. Apprenticeships in health and wellbeing have been a strong growth area for Careerforce in recent years, and the fund is expected to support further growth, with all apprenticeship programmes eligible for the fund.

Minister Hipkins outlined that the intent of the fund is to give better employment prospects as New Zealand recovers from COVID-19. Wenman went on to say that the funding announcement is a boon for the wider health and wellbeing sector as it will not only help to address the workforce shortages, but also connect COVID-displaced workers into roles and encourage their upskilling.

Wenman closed by saying “that we are still working through all the detail with officials, but certainly on the face of it, this is very exciting for apprenticeships, and indeed workplace-based training in New Zealand.”

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