New funding opens door to hundreds more regional apprenticeships

Up to 350 people will have access to trades training.
Up to 350 people will have access to trades training. Photo credit: File / Getty

A funding boost announced on Friday will open the door to hundreds more apprenticeship opportunities in the country's regions.

The $14 million investment, which comes from the Provincial Growth Fund, will give upto 350 people access to trades training across the country.

The schemes will be run by Fonterra, KiwiRail, Northpower, Aukaha, Venture Timaru and Norwood.

The apprenticeships are part of the Regional Apprenticeship Initiative (RAI) and come after five similar schemes providing programmes for 300 people were announced in July.

"The RAI is focused on supporting Māori and Pasifika people into careers," Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones said on Friday.  

"It will also aim to help people who have lost their jobs due to COVID into careers which will support them and their families."

As part of the scheme, KiwiRail will receive $4 million for a national programme to support upto 100 people into apprenticeships that will lead into careers in the rail industry, including mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, electricity supply, rail operations, building/structures and track infrastructure.

Northpower will get $1.5 million to employ and support upto 40 people in the electricity industry, prioritising workers displaced from other sectors including those who have undertaken pre-trades training and are looking for work, as well as Māori and Pasifika.

Aukaha will receive $2 million to operate as a third-party provider. It will facilitate 50 apprenticeships in construction and other priority industries in Dunedin and South and central Otago over an 18-month period.

Venture Timaru Limited will receive $4 million to initiate and manage 100 new construction industry apprenticeships in the mid-south Canterbury and north Otago regions.

Norwood will get $480,000 over two years to support 12 apprentices to enter automotive heavy engineering apprenticeships. The programme will target displaced workers, Māori, Pasifika and women, and will work with three iwi initially – Ngati Kahungungi ki Wairarapa, Ngāti Tūwharetoa and Rongo Whakaata.

Fonterra, which already supports 560 active vocational learners, including 38 apprentices will receive $1.76 million to increase its local training programmes and expand its apprenticeship scheme. The funding will go to supporting an additional 44 people over two years.