Labour’s skills strategy carries risks.

Labour’s recent commitment to make the Apprenticeship Boost permanent if they are re-elected to government is welcome news for many in our sector, but Te Hautū Kahurangi | Tertiary Education Union warns that putting too many eggs in the work-based learning basket carries risks.

In making the announcement, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said “It will reinforce our strong message to school leavers, and in fact to all New Zealanders, that under Labour – the party of apprenticeships – the trades are a great career opportunity and we will back you all the way.”

But for Bruce Delaney, a TEU member and Joinery Apprentice Lecturer at Wintec, “it’s all very well to boost apprenticeship numbers, and that’s a great thing for many learners, but it only works if employers have both the capacity to take on apprentices and the skills necessary to be good, positive, and supportive teachers.”

“When looking to place students into apprenticeships, despite the high volumes of building and construction happening at the moment, it’s not always easy to find the right fit, particularly when employers aren’t necessarily getting the support they need to make it work.”

“There’s also a problem with monitoring. It’s not always clear that the funding employers take for training apprentices is being spent for the benefit of the learner – who still has to pay for a lot out of their own pocket.”

“One size does not fit all. We need more apprentices, and we need more classroom teaching by professional educators whose only job is to do the best they can for their students.”