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August 09, 2018 at 11:45 am

The Government’s “Mana in Mahi – Strengthen Work” scheme’s commitment to industry training is a good start but the Industry Training Federation (ITF) wants to see similar wage support extended to all employers of new apprentices, not just long-term jobseekers.

“Any opportunity which encourages more employers to offer training is a step in the right direction, but we don’t think “Mana in Mahi” goes far enough to encourage more employers to invest in tomorrow’s workforce,” says ITF Chief Executive Josh Williams.

“The Prime Minister is right when she says the Earn and Learn pathway is a "no-brainer". Apprenticeships turn lives around by developing skilled workers under the wing of an employer, on the job."

In New Zealand 25,000 employers invest in 146,000 trainees and apprentices, but only 4% of school leavers went into industry training or apprenticeships straight from school. "Young New Zealanders who earn and learn are making a smart choice. We need incentives to be extended to all employers who take on new apprentices, not just the longer-term unemployed” says Josh Williams.

“While we heavily subsidise young people who undertake tertiary study, we also need to support employers who train people in the workforce, especially new trainees or apprentices, or those who require additional pastoral support.

“Broader employer incentive schemes will make a real difference to New Zealand’s skills shortage. While "Mana in Mahi" is a good start, it is too cautious given the scale of our skills problem in New Zealand. If we don’t get more young people on a track to a working future we will all pay much more in the long run.”

Today, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni, and Minister of Employment Hon Willie Jackson launched the Ministry of Social Development’s Mana in Mahi scheme. It will give eligible employers who take on young New Zealanders who have been receiving a jobseeker benefit for at least six months a wage subsidy of $9,750 each year. Crucially, a further $3,000 to $6,000 will be available for pastoral care to support the employer and the apprentice.

The scheme is being trialled with a pilot of around 150 places. If successful it will be broadened next year to 4,000 places. Apprentices set themselves up for a lucrative and rewarding future and New Zealand desperately needs more skilled tradespeople. Later this month the Industry Training Federation launches Got A Trade? Got It Made! week which highlights the Earn and Learn and career benefits which are achieved when young people engage in on-the-job training.