Connexis welcomes boost to industry training from Budget 2021

Diana Blake News

Trades training is getting the support it needs as the Government commits $279.5 million to vocational education and training (VET) in its latest Budget, says Kaarin Gaukrodger, Chief Executive of Connexis, the infrastructure industry training organisation. 

“Apprenticeships in the infrastructure sector are seeing unprecedented growth right now and this funding will enable us to take advantage of demand and support both our employers and learners.”  

She adds the Budget provides the required funding to allow vocational education organisations to build towards a unified system with confidence, while supporting the increase in trainee numbers, as the once-in-a-generation Reform of Vocational Education (RoVE) ramps up this year.  

The 2021 budget provides for both operational and capital expenditure to cover the RoVE reform in addition to the funding already in place for growth with the Targeted Training and Apprenticeship Fund (TTAF), known as Free Trades Training, and the Apprenticeship Boost.   

“The Budget aligns with the Government’s move to transform vocational education and get more people into the workforce by increasing learning while on the job and gaining skills that are both in demand and in short supply. It will not only help learners, especially those that require extra support to achieve, but lesson the burden on employers who undertake on-job training to upskill staff; something that has become all the more important now that importing skills has become difficult.” 

“By making this funding available, the Government is enabling us to continue the important work we do upskilling the infrastructure workforce as we move through the reforms. As the Tertiary Education Minister has said, it is signalling VET is open for business and we very much applaud this message.”  

“It is important to our infrastructure community that industry training does not slow down as the reform progresses. With the Government’s increased investment in infrastructure – a $15 billion boost over the next four years, taking the total to $57.3 billion – the need for skilled people within the workforce continues to grow.” 

The Minister, Hon. Chris Hipkins, also notes in his press release that the Budget aims to right historic under-funding of VET. 

“Between 2014 and 2019, the average amount of government tuition funding per learner for vocational education and training increased by 2.4 percent, significantly less than the average rate for degree education (11.4 percent) and also less than the increase in the Consumer Price Index.” 

Overall, the investment package will deliver a 13.4% increase in funding to VET by 2024 to help bring it up to the level of other tertiary funding. 

The increase in funding is targeted towards better support for employers, and for learners with higher needs. It will give greater flexibility including on-job, off-job and online learning, increased pastoral care, and better accessibility across New Zealand. 

$32 million will go to wānanga; $10.4 million will be spent on reinstating the Training Incentive Allowance for learners studying at levels 4 to 7 on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework; and an extra $5.8 million will go towards extending the Temporary Hardship Fund.