Richmond painters Gavin Lambert and Troy Perry welcome the government’s decision to scrap fees for apprentices from July 1. The $320million programme aims to stave off a sharp drop in training as occurred after the global financial crisis, when trainees dipped from 133,000 to 83,000 nationally.

Gavin, who owns his own painting and decorating business and has helped train at least six apprentices in his time, says the move is full of positives.

“It’s brilliant,” he says.

“I’m a big believer that you need apprentices because they are our future.”

He says, if the cost-factor for both employers and apprentices can be eased, then it will be a big boost for his industry.
“It’s the best thing the government could have done and our industry is crying out for them.”

Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology chief executive Liam Sloan says his organisation is able to handle the expected influx of new students wanting to learn a trade.

“Removing the fees for the students is a positive step,” he says.

“The challenge will be getting the students into the workforce.

“It’s a great opportunity for people to consider retraining or doing a trade out of high school.”

He says apprenticeships will continue to be reliant on the economy allowing them to be viable and tradespeople’s willingness to take on an apprentice, potentially for the first time.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said the fund, announced as part of Budget 2020, will encourage and support New Zealanders to undertake vocational education and training in these high-demand industries.

“We know, as a result of Covid-19, many New Zealanders will be looking to retrain and employers in key sectors will need more skilled people,” he says.

“It’s designed not just for school leavers but for people in a range of circumstances and stages of their lives.

“Every course is different and the cost for learners at tertiary providers, industry trainees and apprentices vary, but in many cases they will save between $2500 and $6500 per year.

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