4000 more trade training places to be available for college students

The Government will fund up to 4000 more trades training places for high schoolers from next year.

A full 2000 will be Trades Academies places, which allow high school students at risk of dropping out to mix tertiary-level trades training into the regular curriculum. Up to 2000 will be Gateway places, which integrate job-based trades training into the high school curriculum.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Education Minister Chris Hipkins made the announcement at Heretaunga College in the Upper Hutt on Monday morning, underlining that it was the first increase in Gateway places since the last time Labour was in Government.

The increase will come at a cost of roughly $27m.

“We are committed to reversing the long-term decline in trades training. Trades skills shortages is a key issue business regularly raise with me and this programme is one step in the Government’s plan to plug that gap,” Ardern said.

She told the students at the school that New Zealand had to stop valuing those who went to university over those who went into the trades.

“We should value the people who build things, who make things, who make this country keep running.”

The Government has long-championed its desire to see more young people in trades training, partially as a response to dismal business confidence surveys.

It’s “fees-free” programme covers two years of apprentice training but only one year of academic study.

Near-full employment in recent years has often made it difficult for employers to find labour, particularly in construction.

Hipkins said funding had been allowed to fall away for vocational training in recent years.

“An evaluation of Gateway in the early 2000s showed that more than 70 per cent of employers reported several benefits from their involvement with Gateway and 81 per cent of students reported that their involvement with Gateway helped with their future plans,” Hipkins said.

“Despite their success, over recent years funding for Trades Academies and Gateway has been allowed to lag behind demand.”

He said it was key that high schools themselves remained linked in with vocational education.

“We want schools better linked to the world of work, and for students in school to have clearer and more direct pathways into vocational education in the workplace and the tertiary system.”

Currently there are just over 7000 Trades Academies places and 14,000 Gateway places funded.

Hipkins is currently undertaking a massive reform of vocational tertiary education, absorbing every polytech into a single national entity.