Deputy prime minister and finance minister Grant Robertson is fronting this afternoon’s post-cabinet press conference with help from education minister Chris Hipkins. The prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, is in isolation in Auckland as her partner has tested positive for Covid-19.
The pair are announcing an extension to the apprenticeship boost programme, currently scheduled to wrap up in August, to the end of 2023.
With an investment of $230 million as part of next week’s budget, the programme will support 38,000 apprenticeships, 24,000 of which are new (14,000 will continue from the existing programme), said Robertson.
The apprentices’ subsidy will be halved for the first year, lowering to $500 from August 5, announced Hipkins. This is “in recognition of the significant growth in apprentices since 2020 and the employment strength in the New Zealand economy”. The second-year subsidy rate will remain at $500 per month until the initiative ends in December 2023.
“A locally trained workforce provides for greater economic security,” said Hipkins. “It delivers a highly skilled workforce to build infrastructure, or design the technology needed to future-proof the economy while ensuring good jobs for New Zealanders.”
Funding was also extended for the Mana in Mahi and Māori Trades Training programmes. Mana in Mahi supports people receiving a benefit into work and training, while Māori Trades Training is a collaboration between the Ministry of Social Development and 17 Māori entities to provide multi-year work-focused training for rangatahi Māori.
“New Zealand is seeing a huge boom in construction and building and we have plenty of people willing and ready to take up the opportunities it provides. However, many lack the foundational skills to realise their potential,” said social development and employment minister Carmel Sepuloni on today’s announcement, which she said would “go a long way to bridging this skills gap”.