Skills: Time for talking is over, let’s act

Press Release – New Zealand Labour Party

The call by a large recruitment company to set up a taskforce to look at how best to attract and keep skilled workers in New Zealand may have some merit, but Labour would simply get on with the job of implementing its skills strategy, says Labour’s …Carol BEAUMONT Associate Spokesperson for Education

23 November 2011 MEDIA STATEMENT Skills: Time for talking is over, let’s act

The call by a large recruitment company to set up a taskforce to look at how best to attract and keep skilled workers in New Zealand may have some merit, but Labour would simply get on with the job of implementing its skills strategy, says Labour’s Associate Education spokesperson Carol Beaumont.

“In terms of skills training, New Zealand has gone backward under National,” Carol Beaumont said. “The urgent need is to train more of our people for skilled jobs, not for another talkfest, no matter how well-intentioned it might be.

“We saw the mother of all talkfests when National came to office. The so-called Jobs Summit created a handful of jobs at most, while tens of thousands of Kiwis have since headed for the scrapheap, or packed their bags and headed to Australia.

“In 2008 the Labour government had a skills strategy in place — a tripartite agreement between government, business and unions,” Carol Beaumont said. “What happened when National won the last election? It immediately binned the strategy, and replaced it with nothing that has been effective in stopping the brain and body drain.

“Labour still strongly believes in a strategic and collaborative approach. It worked under the last Labour government and it will work again now,” Carol Beaumont said.

“National’s idea of a strategic and collaborative approach is to seek skilled workers in the United Kingdom to rebuild Christchurch. It’s nonsense, but worse than that, it’s a tragedy for Kiwis who want to be trained to contribute to this wonderful country of ours.

“Labour has a strong plan to get New Zealanders into skilled work that will pay them the sort of wages that will encourage them to stay in New Zealand. Labour is committed to providing every Kiwi throughout their life cycle with the opportunity to up-skill and realise their full potential, but to do this we need a world class skills training system.

“All the evidence shows that lifting skills and utilising those skills well leads to lifts in productivity, which will help ensure business success and deliver a high wage economy.

“Deliberate actions need to be taken bring this about,” Carol Beaumont said. “As well as having a comprehensive Youth Skills and Employment Package, Labour will create a New Zealand Employment and Skills Strategy; set an ambitious target to have three out of four adult New Zealanders holding qualifications at Level 3 or above by 2020; review the entire range of vocational training to ensure it is world-leading; and restore the $13 million cut from ACE. The time for simply talking has passed.”

ENDS

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