Government announces Free Trades Training scheme – a welcome boost for the Infrastructure Industry

Prue Feely Civil, Energy, News, NZ Apprenticeships, Telco, Water

The Government’s recently announced Free Trades Training scheme is a welcome boost for the Infrastructure Industry.  It provides a platform for attracting keen new workers to build the required workforce capacity and capability to deliver on the pipeline of infrastructure projects.

The Targeted Training and Apprenticeship Fund (TTAF – also called Free Trades Training) of $320 million was announced by the Government to encourage vocational education opportunities for everyone.

Connexis is the Industry Training Organisation for Infrastructure, and Chief Executive Toby Beaglehole says, “Free Trades Training means that a wide range of Connexis apprenticeships and training are now available free, to both existing employees as well as new ones coming on board.

“Infrastructure is the backbone of our country and needs competent and motivated people now.  This Government-funded training will help attract new people, as well as helping current employees to complete their training and gain a qualification.  The industry is also keen to see more women join the sector and given women have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, this is a great opportunity to develop a career in infrastructure”.

The Free Trades Training fund is available for those enrolling or who are currently enrolled in eligible programmes from 01 July 2020 to 31 December 2022. It will cover the fees normally paid by the trainee/employer including:

  • Enrolment fees
  • Course fees (Annual fees)
  • Compulsory course costs including block courses
  • External assessment fees

Toby says that in tandem with this incentive the infrastructure sector is also moving towards a big change in training delivery, via the Reform of Vocational Education (RoVE).  Under RoVE, the Government’s new training delivery system will have a stronger focus on on-job training with employers.  This will include delivering the skills employers need, providing more support for their employees, and ensuring greater consistency in vocational education across the country. This is a shift in focus that Connexis fully supports.

Connexis has been working closely with its key stakeholders, to provide crucial feedback and input into this process to ensure that the unique needs of the industry are met.

“RoVE has lots of moving parts.  For Connexis, our primary focus is understanding and influencing both standard setting and arranging training,” Toby says.  “We’re active participants in groups like the interim Establishment Board for Workforce Development Councils and working with other training organisations on shaping up effective transition strategies.”

“We also believe in the importance of research and improvement.  By staying involved in a wide range of industry forums, we’re able to both understand what outcomes officials are seeking, and better reflect industry needs and aspirations.”

Connexis is delighted to be part of the consortium behind the Construction and Infrastructure CoVE recently announced by Government. The CoVE focus includes the current and future workforce issues of capacity, capability and productivity. This will provide industry with a broad and deep assessment of the options for upskilling, reskilling and retention.

Infrastructure has some unique attributes, including those areas that are lower volume, more expensive to train in, and technically complex.  “Through involvement in research and development and governance, we’re aiming to represent the Civil, Energy, Telco and Water training needs as comprehensively as possible,” he says.

A key deliverable of the new training system through RoVE is offering learners more support while they’re training, and vocational education that is more relevant to work.

“Work-integrated learning will become an increasingly important part of the vocational education system, giving people the opportunity and flexibility to earn while they learn, an initiative already well underway in our industry with great results,” Toby says.

With a lot of movement in the vocational education at present, it is great that trainee and industry needs are still in the forefront and Free Trades Training is a great opportunity for employers looking to attract new talent and for anyone looking to kickstart a steady rewarding career now.

Visit for more information regarding Free Trades Training and other funding available for Infrastructure Apprenticeships and Training.