Apprenticeships make up an important element in New Zealand’s educational framework and help us produce a skilled workforce to meet the ever-increasing needs of our rapidly growing country.
We are currently in the middle of the biggest building boom in New Zealand’s history. The rapid scale-up of construction in Auckland alone will exceed $17 billion of new construction in 2018. This is great news for our economy but it does bring with it challenges that we must rise to meet. The latest figures released last month show apprenticeship numbers have increased by 6800 since 2012 – a significant increase of 19 per cent. We now boast more than 43,000 New Zealanders engaging with apprenticeships, with most in the construction and engineering sectors, but we must do more. We have set an ambitious target of 50,000 apprentices by 2020 and are determined to achieve it. To get us there the Government has invested significantly with $14.4 million in industry training delivered as part of Budget 2016, along with a further $9.6 million for Maori and Pasifika Trades Training, during four years. We are seeing return on this investment, but there is still work to be done and this requires the support of parents, teachers, careers advisors and businesses.
‘The Occupation Outlook’ published by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment projects strong job prospects for qualified trades workers during the next few years. This should be sending clear signals to young people who are looking for an alternative career choice and are weighing up their options. Why not consider a practical occupation that allows you to earn while you learn? The skills they will develop are one of the keys to unlocking further economic growth and contributing in a meaningful way to our society.