Opunake Coastal Column - Strong job market creates opportunities for Kiwis
The strong and growing New Zealand job market provides great opportunities to get more Kiwis into life-long careers.Our economy is growing at well over 3 per cent, unemployment is dropping, and in the last quarter alone 35,000 more jobs were created. We have the second highest employment rate in the entire OECD.
This gives us a great platform to work with employers and other stakeholders to lift employment to levels we haven’t seen before.
The Government has a strong focus on helping young people develop the skills they need to move into work. We’ve just announced a new target – to have 50,000 people training in apprenticeships by 2020, up from the 42,000 in training now.
This signals that we will back employers and industry training organisations as they grow their apprenticeship and trainee numbers.
The increasing demand for apprentices reflects strengthening economic conditions, business confidence and a push to meet skill shortages in a range of industries such as construction, engineering and aged care.
We’re in the middle of our biggest ever building boom and we have an unemployment rate which is the lowest since December 2008.
We are fortunate to have organisations here in our region such as Taranaki Futures who are focusing on the 70% of young people in our high schools that don’t attend university and are looking to trades training or links into business, creative industries or entrepreneurial opportunities. Providing that vital training and employment here in Taranaki is imperative to our growth and retaining our young people.
We already have many programmes to support young people into careers. These include trades academies, which give secondary school students the opportunity to explore trade and technology careers while still at school. Fees-free tertiary training is supporting young people who have left school without National Certificate of Educational Achievement level 2. We are running trade training programmes for 2400 Māori and Pasifika students, up from 1900 last year, and the Youth Service, which helps young people facing particular challenges gain the skills they need to find a job and help secure independent futures.
There have been some notable successes, including a 33 per cent increase in students enrolled in IT qualifications between 2008 and 2015, and the Maori and Pasifika Trades Training scheme growing to 2400 places in 2016, up from 1900 in 2015. The annual rate of those not in employment, education or training (NEET) is also at its lowest in eight years.
Equipping Kiwis with the skills to succeed in the 21st century economy helps boost productivity and improve outcomes for all New Zealanders.