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Redacted New Zealand 'dole for apprenticeships' details revealed

Staff Writer |
Redacted details of a dole for apprenticeships scheme in New Zealand starting next year - which could cost as much as $60 million annually - have been revealed.

The details were released when the government announced it would make it easier to bring in construction workers from overseas, Radio NZ reported.

Immigration Minister Ian Lees-Galloway has scrapped the Kiwibuild Visa plans in favour of a Kiwibuild Skills Shortage list and measures to streamline approval for building firms to recruit migrants.

Accompanying the announcement, Building and Construction Minister Jenny Salesa published her Action Plan to deliver the Construction Skills Strategy aimed at tackling the 30,000 worker deficit.

That plan included redacted information about the Dole for Apprenticeships scheme, one of five main initiatives.

Dole for Apprenticeships has been part of Labour's policy since 2016, however since coming into government, no details have been announced.

Under the preliminary plan, 4000 people on the dole would be recruited as apprentices with initial costs estimated as between $12,750 and $15,750 per person, per year: an annual cost of $51m-$63m, which it said would cover a wage subsidy and provision of wrap-around supports.

"In the short term, Dole for Apprenticeships is expected to have a lower impact. It is expected this impact will increase as relationships with employers through the Action Plan mature," it said.

The hidden details also showed the scheme would be fully in place as soon as 2019/2020 provided funding could be secured in next year's Budget.

When asked about the fact the redacted details were available, Mr Lees Galloway replied "oh, that's less than ideal."

Employment Minister Willie Jackson said the scheme would target young people.

"Young people who might be part of the NEETs (Not in Education, Employment or Training) crew, a lot of young people who are at the coal face not getting support, coming from families who are part of inter-generational unemployment. There's a lot there.

Recent figures showed nearly 12 percent of all 15 to 24-year-olds couldn't break into the workforce.

"We want to support a lot of these young ones that have been lost. We've been working very closely with them at regional level over the last few months and we've got some good returns. This is a priority for us, this dole for apprenticeship."

However he acknowledged there was some negative connotations around the 'dole' branding and he would shortly be announcing a new name for it.

Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation head Warwick Quinn said it was a good idea, with only 10 percent of the industry taking on apprentices.

"They see training as a barrier and a cost, particularly in the first 12 to 18 months where a new recruit takes time and rework and is not productive. Any financial support we give them is very important.

"Because our employers are the teachers it's also a matter of equity in that every other teacher in the country is paid directly and supported to teach, yet in construction or the training environment for employers that's not the case."

He said the term 'dole' shouldn't be used.

"We shouldn't have the word dole and apprenticeships in the same sentence. It's sends bad signals and it should be marketed or presented in another way. We don't want construction to be seen as the dumping ground to solve our social issues."

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