3 Aug 2012

Employers welcome apprenticeship changes

7:01 am on 3 August 2012

Employers are welcoming a tightening of the apprenticeship training scheme, which the Government says will create more skilled and qualified workers and help address the skills shortage.

Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce announced a review of industry training organisations this week.

Last year, 150,000 students studied a trade across 30 different training organisations, including 15,000 apprenticeships.

The Government wants ITOs to produce more highly qualified and skilled employees, to better meet employers' needs, while clarifying the roles and responsibilities of ITOs.

But the minister also wants more consolidation, with fewer ITOs and more streamlined qualifications.

The Industry Training Federation says the reaction to the review from ITOs has been overwhelmingly positive.

Chief executive Mark Oldershaw says Government and businesses want to see people achieving a high level of qualifications to provide a more skilled economy and workforce.

Mr Oldershaw says there is a lot of work to do in order to determine how to do that.

Marine Industry Training Organisation executive director Peter Busfield believes its model is one that others could benefit from.

He says the Industry Training Organisation is actually owned by the industry association.

"So there's no problem in communication, of ensuring that the New Zealand Marine Industry Training Organisation is working exactly as the employers would like of that industry, because we're one in the same organisation".

But Mr Busfield says most other ITOs do not use that model and he believes the Government moves will bring it more into line with the model of the New Zealand marine industry and the marine industry ITO.

Business NZ view

Business New Zealand chief executive Phil O'Reilly says the overall strengthening of the apprenticeship scheme is good news for employers, but says only a review of the whole education system will fully address the skills shortage.

"What you need to be thinking about in terms of solving skills shortages is actually making sure that the entire system that operates around, particularly young people, works best, of changes in the schooling system, changes in the curriculum, changes in the way in which apprenticeships are funded, it all adds up to hopefully a better solution to the problem".

Mr O'Reilly says in the future the changes are likely to lead to fewer better funded ITOs.

The Ministry of Education will consult on the proposed changes over the next six weeks.