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Source: New Zealand Government

Up to 350 more people in regional New Zealand will gain a pathway to trades training through a $14 million government investment in apprenticeships, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today.

The apprenticeships are part of the $40 million Regional Apprenticeship Initiative (RAI) announced in June. The funding comes from the Provincial Growth Fund and will be used to support up to 1000 regional apprenticeships in total.

“When I announced this new initiative in response to economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, I said we wanted to get that funding to the people who needed it within six months,” Shane Jones said.

“The first five schemes, which were worth just over $12 million for 300 apprenticeships, were announced in July and now I am announcing another six. Together these 11 apprenticeship schemes have put us just over the half-way mark and well on track to achieve the whole $40 million allocated before Christmas.

“Today I am announcing just under $14 million for regional apprenticeship schemes that will be run by KiwiRail, Northpower, Aukaha, Venture Timaru, Norwood and Fonterra.”

KiwiRail will receive $4 million for a national programme to support up to 100 people into apprenticeships that will lead to careers in the rail industry. The apprenticeships will include mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, electricity supply, rail operations, building/structures and track infrastructure.

Northpower will receive $1.5 million to employ and support up to 40 people to take up apprenticeships in the electricity industry. The programme will prioritise displaced workers including those who have undertaken pre-trades training and are looking for work, as well as Māori and Pasifika. The programme will be open to all other workers (including existing employees interested in apprenticeships) when this demand has been met.

Aukaha will receive $2 million to operate as a third-party provider and facilitate 50 apprenticeships in construction and other priority industries in Dunedin and South and Central Otago over an 18-month period.

Venture Timaru Limited will receive $4 million to initiate and manage 100 new construction industry apprenticeships in the Mid-South Canterbury and North Otago regions.

Norwood will receive funding of $480,000 over two years to support up to 12 apprentices to enter automotive heavy engineering apprenticeships and gain relevant Level 4 qualifications. The programme will target displaced workers, Māori, Pasifika and women, and will work with three iwi initially – Ngati Kahungungi ki Wairarapa, Ngāti Tūwharetoa and Rongo Whakaata.

Fonterra already supports 560 active vocational learners, including 38 apprentices. The company is keen to increase its commitment to local training and will receive funding of $1.76 million to help expand its apprenticeship scheme and support an additional 44 people over two years.

“Each of these schemes will provide a funding boost for the regions and ensure there is a pipeline of skilled workers available to meet future demand,” Shane Jones said.

“The RAI is focused on supporting Māori and Pasifika people into careers. It will also aim to help people who have lost their jobs due to COVID into careers which will support them and their families.”

Project summaries:

The funding will bridge a gap in KiwiRail’s workforce by providing development opportunities for new and current staff and building a sustainable learning pathway to promote a career in the rail industry.

Apprentices taken on through this funding will be paired with a workforce development adviser to provide pastoral care and ongoing support.

The project will also provide pre-employment and ongoing complementary training such as first aid and Site Safe and pastoral care. It will focus on Māori and Pasifika people and will enable KiwiRail to take on new apprentices and upskill current employees.

Northpower already has a Trades Cadetship Programme in Northland which recruits directly through iwi connections, with 70 per cent Māori representation in the next intake. This funding will allow the company to expand that programme to help up to 40 people into full apprenticeships in the electrical industry in Northland, Bay of Plenty and Waikato.

Aukaha’s programme will mainly focus on displaced workers, Māori and Pasifika who are working as unskilled labourers and who have not had opportunities to begin apprenticeships.

The focus is primarily on small and medium-sized businesses and one to three apprentices per employer, in Dunedin, South Otago, Central Otago, Queenstown and Wanaka.

Aukaha has experience in this area, having successfully delivered its current Te Ohu Aukaha Trade Training programme. It also has an existing relationship with MSD to support Māori and Pasifika into employment and apprenticeships.

Venture Timaru Limited will work with employers in Ashburton and wider mid-Canterbury, Timaru, Oamaru and wider North Otago to identify apprenticeship opportunities in small and medium-sized businesses.

It will manage and administer the funds, facilitate full pastoral care, ensure apprentices have the equipment they need and provide oversight of the programme.

The focus of the programme is primarily the construction trades including building, plumbing, electrical, painting and plastering but it will also look at apprenticeships in the primary, engineering and manufacturing sectors. Venture Timaru has already engaged with a number of businesses and has expressions of interest for up to 100 apprenticeships.

Norwood already runs an apprenticeship programme which it would like to extend from 39 to around 50. It works in partnership with the Motor Industry Training Organisation.

Currently the industry is heavily reliant on overseas workers and Norwood is keen to attract, employ and train locals in the sector.

Norwood will develop and deliver its own specialist apprentice technical training and implement a centralised system to enhance pastoral care/manaakitanga, make intakes regular and reward credit achievement by increasing earning potential.

The programme will focus on Northland, Waikato, Taranaki, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, Hawkes Bay, Manawatu-Whanganui, Wairarapa, Marlborough, West Coast, and Otago.

The Fonterra programme will employ and support 44 people over two years in Northland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, Manawatu, Canterbury and Southland to enter into Level 4 apprenticeships or Level 4 industry training qualifications in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, heavy automotive engineering and dairy processing.

The dairy industry workforce is ageing and there is a need to ensure a pipeline of skilled people as well as lifting the capability of the current workforce and provide long-term employment opportunities in the regions.

Notes for editors:

The Regional Apprenticeships Initiative allows for up to $40,000 of support per apprentice, which includes a wage subsidy of up to $16,000 for the first year of training and up to $8,000 for the second year.

It also includes additional funding to help with other business support and pastoral care so the employer and apprentice can successfully maintain the apprenticeship.

Employers must top up funding to ensure apprentices are paid at least the relevant minimum wage or the training wage and not be accessing a wage subsidy or other similar apprenticeship support from any other source.

More information on the Regional Apprenticeships Initiative can be found here.