All New Zealanders will be able to train in a trade for free, thanks to a billion dollar investment by the Government to combat rising unemployment in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A whopping $1.6 billion of the 2020 Budget has been dedicated to ensuring Kiwis can receive training in industries such as agriculture, construction, community health and counselling.
Education Minister Chris Hipkins says the cash is essential for rebuilding the economy in the wake of the pandemic.
"As we emerge from this health crisis it is important that we now invest in training and education for people who might have lost their jobs, or who want to move to a different sector where prospects are better," he said on Thursday.
"[The investment] will provide opportunities for New Zealanders of all ages to receive trades training. It will continue to be added to as part of our ongoing work to rebuild the economy."
The fund will be available from July 1 2020.
As well as free trades training, the Government has invested $334 million in funding for tertiary education enrolment and more than $400 million so that employers can keep their apprentices in work.
Employment Minister Willie Jackson says it's likely those hit hardest will be young people, particularly Māori and Pacific people, women and people with disabilities.
To combat this He Poutama Ranngatahi has been boosted by $121 million.
The Government initiative aims to improve employment outcomes for rangatahi aged 15 to 24.
"We know this programme works and gets people into work," said Jackson.
"Expanding He Poutama Rangatahi will play a key role in kickstarting our recovery by helping people on the margins of the labour market to get entry requirements for training."
As well as the $1.4 billion free trades package the Budget has invested millions into ensuring Kiwis can continue to work through the COVID-19 chaos.
Where will the money go?
$334 million for additional tertiary enrolments
320 million for targeted investment support for free trades training in critical industries
$412 million for employers to retain their apprentices
$276 million for Workforce Development Councils and Regional Skills Leadership groups to give the regions a greater voice in the response to COVID-19
$141 million to support high quality tertiary and trade education
$50 million for a Māori Apprenticeship Fund
$19 million for group training schemes to retain apprentices
$26 million operating and capital for a new online careers advice system