Road transport on list of supported training to aid Covid-19 recovery

5 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineJune 3, 2020

People wanting to become heavy vehicle operators will get a helping hand from the government to assist New Zealand in recovering from the economic fallout from Covid-19.

The Targeted Training and Apprenticeships Fund (TTAF) will pay costs of learners of all ages to undertake vocational education and training. The fund will target support for areas of study and training that will give learners better employment prospects as New Zealand recovers from Covid-19.

Apprentices working in all industries will have costs paid, and in high demand areas, including in regional New Zealand, will be targeted.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said the fund, announced as part of Budget 2020, will encourage and support New Zealanders to undertake vocational education and training in these high-demand industries.

“We know as a result of Covid-19, many New Zealanders will be looking to retrain and employers in key sectors will need more skilled people,” Hipkins said.

“We‘re working hard to connect the two sides of the equation by making this process as simple and practical as possible. It‘s designed not just for school leavers but also for people in a range of circumstances and stages of their lives.

“That means we‘ve removed costs for learners, apprentices or employers for the next two and a half years, and are targeting courses and programmes that are more likely to lead to jobs. We will also be deliberate in promoting vocational education for all ages.”

Hipkins said every course is different and the cost for learners at tertiary providers, industry trainees and apprentices vary but in many cases they will save between $2500 and $6500 per year. Apprentices and learners whose courses started earlier in the year but continue beyond 1 July will be eligible for a partial refund.

Starting on 1 July, and for the rest of 2020, the government has initially targeted vocational programmes in the following areas:

  • Primary industries, including agriculture, horticulture and viticulture, fisheries (including aquaculture) and forestry;

  • Construction, including building, plumbing, and civil engineering;

  • Community support, including youth work, care for elderly, counselling and community health, including mental health and addiction support;

  • Manufacturing and mechanical engineering and technology;

  • Electrical engineering; and

  • Road transport (e.g. heavy vehicle operator).

The list of targeted areas of training covered by the fund will be available, with more detail, on the TEC website:

“All apprenticeships including those outside the targeted areas will be eligible for fees support. This is aimed at industries expected to be particularly hard hit by Covid-19, such as hospitality, tourism and food, where employers can keep their apprentices on.

“For 2021, we will refine these initial targeted areas to reflect the work that is under way across government to better understand how industry workforce needs are being affected by Covid-19 and what skills will be needed to support the country‘s economic recovery,” Hipkins said.

The accelerated establishment of Workforce Development Councils (which will replace the industry training leadership part of former ITOs) and Regional Skills Leadership Groups (RSLGs) will provide a stronger industry and regional voice as the fund is implemented.

“The $320 million fund is part of a wider package to get New Zealand moving again announced on Budget Day. It will work alongside the Employer Apprenticeship subsidy scheme, of which we‘ll be announcing further details shortly.

“These responses to Covid-19 supercharge the big changes we are making to the vocational system. They build on the knowledge that learning isn‘t limited to a classroom – it‘s something that can take place any time, anywhere.

“We are making a significant paradigm shift from seeing learning as a system or institution that learners need to fit their lives around, to seeing learning as something that needs to flex and fit around each person and the lives they live,” Hipkins said.