14 May 2020

Budget 2020: Trades training gets $1.6bn boost

5:19 pm on 14 May 2020

Trade training gets a $1.6 billion Budget boost aimed at trainees and their employers.

Two builders in yellow and orange at the construction site

Photo: 123RF

The four-year funding package includes hundreds of millions of dollars for tertiary enrolments, companies that employ apprentices, and free trade training.

It also provides $276 million to set up the workforce councils and regional skills groups created by the government's decision to give the new national polytechnic responsibility for industry training.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said the funding would help people of all ages get trade training if they lost their jobs because of the pandemic.

The government would spend $334 million on additional tertiary education enrolments, $320 million on free trade training for critical industries, and $412 million to help employers retain their apprentices.

The package also included $32 million over four years to all secondary school trades academies to enrol 1000 more students per year, and $50 million for a Māori Apprentices Fund.

The Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO) is enthusiastic about the Budget's multi-billion dollar spend on construction and trade training, which includes $8 billion to build new state houses and shovel-ready infrastructure projects.

Warwick Quinn from the BCITO said that covers all angles of the construction industry.

"They've looked at the supply side in relation to making sure they can beef up their capacity on the building front to keep things active, and that's the 8000 homes along with the insulation package and also supporting employers who take on apprentices recognising that there could be pressure on them because of reduced workload."

There was $19.3 million over four years to help recently unemployed people retrain and find jobs in the primary industries.

Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor said the primary sector needed about 50,000 more workers and the funding would help place at least 10,000 people in jobs in the intermediate term.

All three education sectors - schools, early childhood, and tertiary - are to receive a 1.6 percent increase to their operational grants and subsidies.

School spending in the Budget includes funding to keep up with roll growth and to cover previous commitments such as increased construction and maintenance of school buildings.

Major expansion of school lunch scheme

The one new initiative for schools is a significant expansion of the free school lunch scheme. An additional $220 million over four years would increase the number of children it feeds from 8000 to about 200,000 by the middle of next year.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the pandemic has hit many families hard, and there was an urgent need to better support children in the schools with the most disadvantage.

Missing from the Budget are several initiatives teachers and principals would have been expecting were it not for the pandemic. They include more learning support coordinators to join the 600 provided in last year's Budget, and funding for initiatives related to the recently-completed Tomorrow's Schools review of the school system.

Hipkins had previously said early childhood was to have been his focus in this year's Budget.

The main item for early childhood is the previously-announced increase of about $150 million over four years to increase the minimum pay for qualified teachers.

The Budget also includes an increase of $23m a year for kōhanga reo, and $770,000 a year to support playcentres.

Budget documents show overall spending on education would reach $15.5 billion this year and rise to $16.3 billion next year.

Read more about the 2020 Budget:

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