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May 30, 2019 at 05:30 pm

Budget 2019 investments must deliver workforce skills.

The Government’s Wellbeing Budget offers good intentions but little clarity or urgency in its investment in workforce skills, says the Industry Training Federation.

In his Budget speech this afternoon, Finance Minister Grant Robertson said we need more high quality and accessible trades training and apprenticeships. However, the associated funding is earmarked to implement highly controversial vocational education reforms.

"We had hoped to see how the $197 million reallocated from the Government’s fees-free programme would be used to address urgent skills gaps and deliver the qualified workers our industries need right now” ITF Chief Executive Josh Williams says.  

Budget documents show the funding is earmarked for "changing institutional forms and systems to support the ongoing sustainability of a broad range of delivery".

"That looks like a lot of time and money on restructuring, rather than skills development." Mr Williams says.

New Zealand currently leads the OECD for its participation rate in formal on-job training.  Employers are delivering twice as many vocational qualifications to twice as many people through Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) compared with the Polytechnic sector.  The cost to government is $3,000 per ITO qualificationcompared with $19,000 through Polytechnics.  That's because employer-led training ensures that skills are developed as productively and efficiently as possible. 

"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."