Government extending apprenticeship support scheme, but lowering pay-out

The Government is extending an apprenticeship support scheme until the end of 2023, but lowering the amount paid out in the first year of training. 

The Apprenticeship Boost initiative was introduced in 2020, providing businesses with up to $16,000 to pay the cost of each apprentice they train over nearly two years. Employers of first-year apprentices were eligible for $1000 per month in support, while employers of second-year apprentices got $500 per month. 

The payments were meant to end in August, but Education Minister Chris Hipkins has announced the scheme will now be extended until the end of 2023.

That's the result of a $230 million pre-Budget investment from the Government, allowing another 24,000 apprentices to gain support and 14,000 to be supported beyond the August cut-off. There are 17,000 employers involved in the programme and more can now join up. 

But the amount being paid out is being lowered for some, Hipkins said. 

"In recognition of the significant growth in apprentices since 2020 and the employment strength in the New Zealand economy, and to extend the initiative at reasonable cost, the first-year subsidy rate will lower to $500 per month from 5 August 2022. The second-year subsidy rate will remain at $500 per month until the initiative ends in December 2023."

The minister said more than 190,000 people have benefitted over the past two years from the Government's investment in trades training.

"There has been a 55 percent increase in the number of apprentices since the start of the pandemic," he said. 

"I want to congratulate the record numbers of people starting apprenticeships and employers for taking apprentices on and making sure they are learning while working. It is testament to all of you that the programme has been so successful."

Mana in Mahi and the Māori Trades Training initiatives are also beneficiaries of the investment. Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni said it will see funding for 1600 places in Mana in Mahu over the next two years.

"Funding is also being extended for Māori Trades Training. The Ministry of Social Development has established partnerships with 17 Māori entities across Aotearoa and they are delivering unique multi-year work-focused training. 

"The training programme is beginning to bear fruit and today's announcement provides certainty to our providers and the rangitahi who are benefiting from the scheme.

"New Zealand is seeing a huge boom in construction and building and we have plenty of people willing and ready to take up the opportunities it provides. However, many lack the foundational skills to realise their potential."