Tēnā koutou,

I’m buoyed by the recent Government announcement on the apprenticeship initiatives and what that means for our region’s growth trajectory and current skills gaps.

The investment into training, announced by Government and UCOL recently, will provide the region with a unique opportunity to align training to support the $3.5 billion pipeline of planned work and our buoyant construction sector as well as encourage more people into trades. The development of this talent pipeline will enable Manawatū to collectively build a workforce that is aligned to our priority sectors as well as support the retention of the next generation of skilled staff – great news for businesses who employ apprentices or are considering doing so.

The initiative means that opportunities will be created for school leavers, work ready job seekers, career changers, along with those seeking job security and those who have become displaced due to COVID-19.

To channel the money being invested into the right parts of the talent pipeline, key regional stakeholders, employers and the newly formed Manawatū-Whanganui iRSLG (Interim Regional Skills Leadership Group) will work with relevant government entities and UCOL to build a workforce with the right skills, at the right time – to enable the region to rebuild itself post-COVID-19 and to strengthen its resilience to survive future economic shocks.

The announcement of up to $16,000 in government support per apprentice to help cover their costs for the first two years, together with zero fees for apprentices also for the next two years, there has never been a better time to train or retrain, and I believe we’ll see a positive increase of people moving into the trades.

Longer term, by investing in the regions’ people through apprenticeships, we are collectively developing people to fill roles vacated by an ageing workforce, who have or will be exiting their careers over the coming years.

The support provided to both employers and apprentices through the funding will ensure focus is given where it is needed to see successful completions of apprenticeships. This could include learning support with literacy, numeracy, digital literacy and language support, pastoral care and navigating learning on and off-job.

While traditionally apprenticeships have been considered something that was aimed at youth, modern apprenticeships enable those returning to the workforce, career changers or people considering looking for work stability with opportunities to earn while they learn and be part of a workforce that allows for career growth and progression.

And while COVID-19 has affected the world of work, it has also provided real tangible opportunities for people to consider new futures through apprenticeships, that means they are empowered to work and study through meaningful employment that will contribute to the wider community and region, where they have a ‘hand’ in building its future. Additionally, they are able to continue supporting themselves and their family through earning and learning and building themselves to be better positioned to ‘weather’ future economic shocks through the qualifications they have gained.

I look forward to seeing the positive impacts of this unfold, as we grow Manawatū together.

Sara Towers

Sara Towers
Talent and Skills Manager, CEDA

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