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July 12, 2017 at 05:00 pm

The government’s $50 million fund to help get young people working in regional New Zealand is extremely welcome, but must support young people into sustainable employment and make it easier for employers to take them on, says the Industry Training Federation.

Today, Prime Minister Bill English announced that $42 million will fund the Youth Employment Pathways Programmes in four regions with the highest proportion of young people at risk of long-term unemployment. A further $8 million will fund initiatives to give young Maori the skills and tools they need to find work.

“Supporting young people into work is a real boost, and critical for New Zealand's long-term success,” says ITF Chief Executive Josh Williams. “But if the risk is long-term unemployment then the solutions must deliver long-term careers.  That means ensuring that young people are supported to gain skills and qualifications while they work, through apprenticeships and industry training opportunities."

There are currently 105,000 industry trainees and 43,000 apprentices in New Zealand. They earn while they learn, and contribute to regional economic growth in a huge range of industries.  At a time of strong jobs growth and skills shortages, training opportunities and the numbers of employers and trainees in the system are growing.

To provide real, sustainable support for individuals, communities and our regions, the needs of young people must be matched with the needs of industry.  “Placing young people in thriving industries where there are skills shortages is ideal. Supporting them to gain skills and qualifications at the same time is even better,” says Mr Williams. “Individual growth will translate into economic growth.”

Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) are well placed to broker and support young people to employers that also provide training towards qualifications.  "We look forward to playing a critical role in the Youth Employment Pathways programmes alongside employers, NGOs and government agencies." Mr Williams says.