The Government’s Wellbeing Budget offers good intentions but little clarity or urgency in its investment in workforce
skills, says the Industry Training Federation.
In his Budget speech this afternoon, Finance Minister Grant Robertson said we need more high quality and accessible
trades training and apprenticeships. However, the associated funding is earmarked to implement highly controversial
vocational education reforms.
"We had hoped to see how the $197 million reallocated from the Government’s fees-free programme would be used to address
urgent skills gaps and deliver the qualified workers our industries need right now” ITF Chief Executive Josh Williams
Budget documents show the funding is earmarked for "changing institutional forms and systems to support the ongoing
sustainability of a broad range of delivery".
"That looks like a lot of time and money on restructuring, rather than skills development." Mr Williams says.
New Zealand currently leads the OECD for its participation rate in formal on-job training. Employers are delivering
twice as many vocational qualifications to twice as many people through Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) compared
with the Polytechnic sector.
The cost to government is $3,000 per ITO qualification, compared with $19,000 through Polytechnics. That's because
employer-led training ensures that skills are developed as productively and efficiently as possible.
"People's wellbeing will be improved by a vocational system that supports workers to be resilient in a changing world of
work." says Mr Williams. "The government's investments need to support and grow that employer-led effort."