The government’s plans to boost funding for apprenticeships and introduce financial incentives have been given a tick of approval by the country's largest business lobby group.
Next January, the government will create New Zealand Apprenticeships – a combination of the current Modern Apprenticeship plan and other similar models.
Tertiary education, skills and employment minister Steven Joyce says the new scheme will provide the same level of subsidy for all apprentices, regardless of their age.
Funding will also be boosted, meaning an increase to overall subsidy payments of $12 million in the first year and rising over time.
The educational content of apprenticeships will be improved, with a minimum programme requirement of at least 120 credits.
Perhaps the most appealing change for new apprentices will be the $1000 contribution towards tools and off-job course costs to the first 10,000 people who enrol after April 1 this year.
Those in priority construction trades will be given $2000.
“By rebooting apprenticeships, the government estimates there will be an additional 14,000 new apprenticeships starting training over the next five years – over and above the 7000 who enrol every year,” Mr Joyce says.
Mr Joyce says they have been able to fund the changes by getting rid of tens of thousands of "phantom trainees" who were not earning any credits under the previous Labour government.
The new scheme has the tick of approval from Business NZ.
Chief executive Phil O’Reilly expects the revamped scheme to be especially helpful for the Christchurch rebuild, as there will be higher incentive payments for priority construction trades.
“Under the new scheme the increased focus on higher educational content will need to complement – not replace – practical elements of the training.
“It will be important that government agencies and ITOs work together with industry to ensure that these changes do enhance the value of training for employers and employees.”