Courses and training in construction, agriculture and community work will be free for the next two-and-a-half years, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Education Minister Chris Hipkins have announced.
Ardern also confirmed the Cabinet would next Monday consider the move to alert level 1, and she would provide details on what that would look like this week.
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Ardern and Chris Hipkins revealed the free trades training package in a post-Cabinet briefing this afternoon.
“Supporting New Zealanders who lose their job because of the virus is at the heart of our economic response,” Ardern said.
“There has already been significant job losses, and there will be many more in the coming months. Unfortunately the economic damage caused by the virus is something every country is experiencing, and not something we can avoid. However we can avoid leaving people behind and we can ensure New Zealanders and their families are also supported.”
Hipkins said the industries covered by the scheme would be among those covered by the $320 million targeted training fund created by last month’s government Budget.
He said all apprenticeships would be free from 1 July, and the government would also cover the costs of courses and training in particular industries.
Agriculture, horticulture and viticulture
Fisheries, aquaculture and forestry
Construction, including building, plumbing, and civil engineering
Community support, including youth work, care for elderly, counselling, mental health and addiction support;
Manufacturing and mechanical engineering and technology
Hipkins said the scheme focused on courses likely to lead to employment, and high-demand areas including regional New Zealand would also be targeted.
“We know as a result of Covid-19, many New Zealanders will be looking to retrain and employers in key sectors will need more skilled people,” Hipkins said.
“Every course is different and the cost for learners at tertiary providers, industry trainees and apprentices vary but in many cases they will save between $2500 and $6500 per year.”
Hipkins said apprentices and students already in training would be eligible for a partial refund if their training extended beyond 1 July.
The list of industries covered by the scheme would apply until the end of 2020.
“For 2021, we will refine these initial targeted areas to reflect the work that is underway across government to better understand how industry workforce needs are being affected by covid-19 and what skills will be needed to support the country’s economic recovery.”
Ardern said the trades package was “an important part of our overall plan”.
“It’s about ensuring people can acquire new skills and get jobs in parts of the economy critical to our Covid rebuild, and do that for free.”
“This is a direct help to small businesses thinking about taking on an apprentice, and also ensures we are incentivising even more people entering the trades that we have skills shortages in.”
Source: rnz.co.nz Republished by arrangement.