“There is a national shortage of skilled tradespeople across many industry sectors and our vocational education system is not keeping up,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins says.

“New Zealand needs a lot more people in vocational education, and for both on-the-job and off-the-job training to be higher quality, easier to navigate for learners and employers, more coordinated, and for employers to have more say in setting out the skills they need.

While the reforms are yet to be finalised, it is likely the investment will follow the proposals on the table which pivot around the establishment of a central polytechnic with regional hubs, and upheaval for the industry training organisations.

Industry Training Federation chief executive Josh Williams has been critical of the reforms from the outset stating that employers are delivering twice as many vocational qualifications to twice as many people through Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) compared with the Polytechnic sector.

He points out that the cost to government is $3,000 per ITO qualification, compared with $19,000 through Polytechnics.

“That looks like a lot of time and money on restructuring, rather than skills development,” says Williams of the Budget announcements.

“People’s wellbeing will be improved by a vocational system that supports workers to be resilient in a changing world of work.” says Mr Williams.  “The government’s investments need to support and grow that employer-led effort.”

The Wellbeing Budget also provides a $49.9 million boost for the Mana in Mahi – Strength in Work initiative, extending the places available for participants from 150 up to 2,000, on the way to the goal of 4,000 places.

Employers receive a wage subsidy equivalent to the annual Jobseeker Support rate and support for work-readiness or pre-employment costs, if needed. Participants receive in-work support and incentives to encourage them to stay in work and enter industry training.

The Budget also provides $3.5 million for a School Leavers’ Toolkit to better equip young people for life after school.

All secondary schools students will have access to programmes that will provide civics knowledge and skills, financial literacy, and key workplace competencies. These include key skills like how to enrol to vote, apply for a mortgage, save for a mortgage and write a CV.

Each school will have access to resources so they’re able to design their own School Leavers’ Toolkit that meets the context, culture and needs of its students and community.


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