Folly of Government’s ‘hands off’ approach to lifting skills

Press Release – New Zealand Labour Party

The Government’s under-investment in skills is coming home to roost, with a new report showing it to be a major factor in the gap in productivity and wages between Australia and New Zealand, says Labour’s Associate Education spokesperson Carol …Carol Beaumont
Associate Education Spokesperson

30 September 2011

Report shows folly of Government’s ‘hands off’ approach to lifting skills

The Government’s under-investment in skills is coming home to roost, with a new report showing it to be a major factor in the gap in productivity and wages between Australia and New Zealand, says Labour’s Associate Education spokesperson Carol Beaumont.

Responding to the NZIER paper — Industry productivity and the Australia-New Zealand income gap — Carol Beaumont said Kiwi businesses and workers are the losers in the Government’s “foolish hands-off approach.”

“Industry training numbers have dropped by a staggering 31,000 or 23 per cent since National took office in 2008, and National has made no effort to correct this slide by supporting employers to invest in training.

“Improvement in skills, management capability, organisational quality and regulations can have a profound effect on New Zealand’s growth potential because they improve the overall economic environment and increase the capacity to innovate,” Carol Beaumont said.

“The report also notes that we still have more than one million people in the workforce who have only basic or no qualifications. Many lack basic literacy, numeracy, and language skills. To be able to compete, our industries need skilled labour that can adopt and operate new technologies and processes.

“Since National came into office it has ditched the comprehensive and agreed Skills Strategy developed by unions, business and the former Labour Government. It has also stopped meeting the joint Skills Forum. These decisions were ideologically driven and show how little commitment there is to a collaborative approach to address the huge skills gap we have.

“National has done nothing to lift the number of apprenticeships over the past two years,” Carol Beaumont said. “Modern apprenticeships have declined 10 per cent during that time. National has also cut $145m out of industry training, money which could be invested into up-skilling young people who are not in school, training or jobs, and those in the workforce or unemployed who need to improve their skills.

“Labour has already announced a comprehensive youth skills and employment policy which will invest significantly in thousands more apprenticeships. We will shortly announcing our full skills and employment policy that shows our commitment to work with others to address the structural skills problem we have as a country,” Carol Beaumont said.

ENDS

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