The Government’s recently announced additional $9.6 million to be spent on trades training over the next four years could be wasted if there is no targeted approach.
Master Electricians chief executive Neville Simpson says the current skills shortage can only be solved if more Kiwi employers take on potential apprentices.
He says the first priority for government project work should be given to employers who have apprentices under proper agreements on their workforce.
Disconnect between employers and potential apprentices
New Zealand’s growing economy provides significant opportunities for apprenticeships, but there is a clear disconnect between employers and potential apprentices,” Mr Simpson says.
“Master Electricians says there needs to be a screening process for potential apprentices before the off-job trainers are given additional funding.
“Employers want apprentices who are keen to learn, turn up for work and have a good attitude. On-job training is a necessary component of an apprenticeship and can’t be replicated in a classroom,” he says.
“There needs to be a system in place to match suitable employers with apprentices, so that government money is not used in vain when an apprentice drops out of the system because the employer no longer wants or needs them.
“New Zealand’s leading electrical apprenticeship programme — provided by etco — is a great model for other industries to follow to assist young enthusiastic school leavers to sign on as apprentices,” Mr Simpson says.
Apprenticeship programme could suit other trades
etco, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Master Electricians, believes its model would suit other trades that seem to be struggling to match their youth with apprenticeships.
etco employs nearly 600 apprentices who are trained and seconded to host employers — leaving all employee management and administration duties to etco.
“Maintenance of regulation and proper licensing must be maintained to ensure sectors of the industry do not suffer due to government expediency,” Mr Simpson says.