Fri, 29 Oct 2004
Government addressing skills shortages
Claims by Green Party co-leader Rod Donald that the government is not addressing skills shortages have been dismissed as nonsense by Social Development and Employment Minister Steve Maharey.
"Anyone making these sorts of claims is ignoring the reality of what has been happening in New Zealand in recent years - the significant increases in government funding and the significant increases in the number of people involved in industry training," Steve Maharey said.
"New Zealand's economy is booming. With our high growth rate and record low unemployment, we are facing skills shortages which the government is putting considerable effort into addressing.
"In the past two Budgets the government has substantially increased its investment in industry training. The recent skills package has provided a booster shot to this investment, with an extra 5,000 people getting on-job industry training at a cost of $5 million, doubling the increased spending on new industry training already announced in Budget 2004.
"Nearly 127,000 New Zealanders were in industry training last year - 20,000 more than the year before, and 46,000 more than four years ago. Last year 29,000 employers were providing industry training, 5,000 more than in 2002. With the new spending on training, those numbers will continue to increase significantly.
"These are huge increases in areas where skills shortages are already evident or expected. Tens of thousands of New Zealanders are getting structured training, achieving national qualifications, and contributing to the country's prosperity. The government has a very proud record in this area.
"Governments are able to influence some, but not all, of the many factors that lie behind skills shortages. Workplace training is one area in which we know government involvement is effective so that's why we're investing so heavily in this area - we know that's how we'll continue to achieve results.
"The attraction of skilled migrants to New Zealand is part of our overall strategy of ensuring that industry has the skills it needs. Priority will always be given to training New Zealanders, but when gaps are identified that can only be filled by migrants it is appropriate that we try to attract those migrants."