A year ago, New Zealand went into lockdown. We stayed home and saved lives, and now our economy has bounced back faster than expected.
A lot has changed in the past 12 months, but government’s top priorities have not. We remain committed to keeping New Zealanders safe from Covid, minimising the ongoing economic impact of the virus, and building back better.
Last year we knew it would be important to invest in training and education for people who might have lost their jobs, or who wanted to move into a sector with brighter prospects.
That’s why we established the Targeted Training and Apprenticeships Fund, which covers costs for learners in targeted vocational programmes and all apprenticeships.
Targeted areas include the primary industries, construction, community support, manufacturing, mechanical and electrical engineering, road transport, conservation and IT.
The latest data shows that 106,600 people have taken advantage of free trades training, including more than 58,000 apprentices.
Supporting New Zealanders into education and training serves a double duty – not only helping to minimise the economic impact of Covid, but ensuring we’ll have the workforce to build back better.
For example, delivering more sustainable infrastructure – whether in housing, health, education or transport – requires a huge number of skilled New Zealanders.
In the past year we’ve seen what we can achieve as a team of five million. Now, as I look to the future and think about the potential New Zealand has to launch on a new trajectory when our borders re-open, I am more optimistic than ever.