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A lost generation – industry training is failing

Written By: - Date published: 1:17 pm, June 27th, 2013 - 50 comments
Categories: education, jobs - Tags: ,

The thing is, that for some types of training in New Zealand you can mostly just go and do it. If you want to be a teacher, a lawyer, a nurse, an artist, an actor, a writer, an engineer, an architect or a historian to give some examples, you go to University or Polytech and get the full training you need to at least be qualified. You might need a job to really learn the craft but you have the qualification you need. For middle class kids this is the normal path for training and usually works quite nicely. It is great as a parent to see your kid able to learn to do something they love and even though the job at the end is not guaranteed, you know they will be more employable for a better job at the end than they were at the beginning. In fact lots of these occupations have an over supply of trained people coming out of tertiary institutions, but still the education is available and if you want to do legal training, and you are aware the job market is not all it is cracked up to be, you might still choose to do it because things change, and you may have a range of ideas on how you are going to use the training. Not all training roads lead to Rome.

However if your kid wants to be a builder, a plumber, an electrician, an arborist, a plasterer, a mechanic, an upholsterer, a bus driver, a train driver, a bicycle mechanic or a welder then you have to hope like hell they fall into the training one way or another. Sure they can get into a “pre-training” course somewhere, maybe, but they can’t just choose to go and get the teaching they need, and even if it is their absolute passion, they may be plumb out of luck. The situation regarding this type of training in NZ represents not only another market failure but a story of a lost generation of opportunity. The dismantling of the previous training system with all its faults, and its replacement with the current voluntarist system within a deregulated labour market with no industry planning, no industry bargaining, weak worker voice, and labour market levers designed for a low cost business model has been a disaster which will have a legacy impact for at least two generations and maybe three if it is not fixed.

If the Christchurch rebuild tells us anything it is you can’t predict exactly what demand might be for any particular skill. The short and long term skills shortage lists for immigration also can be read as a legacy of bad training policy. There are jobs on that list that just shouldn’t be there and wouldn’t be there if the system was working. And the policy impacts on kids who leave school and don’t want to go to University but are left with no real options for decent training. The apprenticeship scheme has been resurrected but not nearly on the scale needed. When you meet a young person on an apprenticeship it is a big surprise and cause for celebration. I would love to know how many apprentiships and jobs with a decent training component are gained by word of mouth – someone who knows someone who gives someones kid a break – nothing wrong with that – unless you don’t know anyone! And even if for example we end up with an oversupply of builders – are these young people better or worse off for having this training? Things change! Skills are adaptable!

The industry training (ITO) system saw the state delegate the planning and purchasing of this training to employers organisations themselves. It was meant to also include unions and certainly there is usually a representative on each ITO but little effort is put into building real worker capacity to genuinely broker and lobby for genuine low threshold access to this type of training. Worker engagement, where it genuinely occurs is usually over the content and quality of the training rather than access. With the fragmentation of the labour market and little industry co-ordination at the employer level, and no framework to establish training obligations at all, the system hasn’t and wont work. The Government is restructuring the Industry Training (ITO) sector but it is not dealing with these issues and it is creating further fragmentation of the labour market at the same time and the results will be the same.

There is nothing wrong with strong employer/union participation in the planning and brokering of training, but it must be within a statutory framework that establishes the strong interest of the state in this area being successful. The Government (and I mean any Government) cannot sit back and just hope the system works. The mechanism for readily available training opportunities and the system for funding the training, must be comprehensive and requires Government attention.

The marvellous book I referred to in my last blog had examples of how Europe deals with training. It points out actually that workers in unionised plants are more likely to get access to continuing vocational training, but it does not provide similar evidence for the basic training opportunities. It gives a good further illustration of the benefits of industry level collective bargaining – workers are able to influence training outcomes and accommodate issues such as costs, leave etc within a bargaining framework which also protects employers from threats such as the poaching of trained staff by employers not investing in training. Discussions at the industry level occur within an industry bargaining framework including on continuing education. The training is also tied to pay and conditions and appears effective in many European countries to ensure workers and employers have the skills they need.

The book highlights another issue – impacting on Canterbury as we speak. Workers in insecure employment arrangements are far less likely to be given training opportunities. In some situations the person needing the skills is not the employer (labour hire) and in others the contracting model shifts the training responsibility to the worker themselves (think film industry here – why after all these years is WETA still applying to bring 500 workers per year into NZ rather than training them – maybe because they are contractors?). In Christchurch many of the large construction firms contracting for the work are then subcontracting it out – leaving those not really in a position to offer comprehensive training unable to meet demand. Through one set of eyes, it leaves business without the skilled workers they need. Through another set of eyes, thousands of young workers can’t get the training they want – unlike those that go to law school!

The book gives a number of examples of European state frameworks that ensure training opportunities. They include – compulsory payroll levies with a requirement, for example, that a percentage of workers in every business be engaged in recognised training, requirements that all under 18 year olds in the workforce be engaged for 40% of their time in training (with Govt support for wages and programmes), a right to a certain number of continuing training days per year per worker, negotiated pacts where training is exchanged for redundancy during quiet times and training charters at industry level between governments, unions and industry. This model continues to allow for the ITO type arrangement to plan and broker the training, but within a much more sure proof system that meets demand for training much more comprehensively.

I know a young man that wants to be an arborist. He did a pre-training programme and is hooked. He left school without qualifications and has made coffee in insecure jobs until discovering this passion. There seems to be a demand – power companies, councils and others advertising about the place. He can’t access full proper training. He is too old for a modern apprenticeship and they don’t seem on offer anyway. He is stuck – if he wanted to be a lawyer he could go off to university – if I knew someone who knew someone who cut him some slack – he might be lucky, but why is this so difficult?


50 comments on “A lost generation – industry training is failing”

  1. karol 1

    I do agree that the state of vocational training outside of university degrees in NZ is pretty abysmal.

    I did quite a bit of teaching in further education colleges in London and a little in TAFE colleges in Sydney. They did a lot of pre-vocational and vocational courses that trained people for working in various kinds of occupations.

    Back at the end of the 20th century, the UK further education system provided quite a good framework for vocational training, some of it for people already working on the job (eg brickies, various kinds of engineers, child care workers, etc). And they also provided grants for many of the pre-work training courses.

    I did some teaching of “communications” (literacy, numeracy) on courses for brickies, plumbers, etc) – not the easiest thing to teach to those groups. But my main vocational teaching was on child care courses largely undertaken by women students.

    While I agree with most of your post, Helen, it seems to me that it is slanted more towards jobs that have been traditionally male-dominated. In the light of the court case on pay for equal pay for aged care workers, the legacy of gender differences in occupation also needs some attention. You said in your above post:

    However if your kid wants to be a builder, a plumber, an electrician, an arborist, a plasterer, a mechanic, an upholsterer, a bus driver, a train driver, a bicycle mechanic or a welder then you have to hope like hell they fall into the training one way or another.

    Although more women do many of those jobs now, they are still pretty male-dominated.

    On those courses I taught on in London Further Education courses: the male dominated jobs resulted in higher pay than the female-dominated ones. The child care workers had a similar amount of training, and required similar entry-level qualifications as the plumbers, brickies, etc. Yet child care workers are paid considerably less.

    So I hope you are giving equal consideration for the training requirements for working in jobs that have traditionally been done by women.

    • Rogue Trooper 1.1

      recent case in the media;
      Kristine Bartlett- Healthcare assistant receiving $14.32 per hour, after 20 years experience.

  2. BM 2

    Question you need to ask yourself is why are tradesmen not training up apprentices.

    Some of the reasons are
    – damn hard to find suitable people
    – it’s too costly, customers are not willing to pay for an apprentice
    – haven’t got the time to train people
    – when you do train some one up they piss off overseas or go work for someone else
    -They go into competition against you, this is a biggy, trades people are making a killing because there’s a shortage of skilled people, they don’t want that to change in a hurry.

    Like you say this is a big issue and it’s going to really take a a lot of work and change to get sorted.

    • just saying 2.1

      Last tradesman I hired charged out his apprentice at $45 per hour for holding the ladder.
      Tradesman before that sent the apprentice for the whole wiring job, including the initial quote.
      In fact it can be very difficult to get a qualified tradie round our way. Seems like an apprentice can be a bit of a licence to print money, considering what the apprentice gets paid by the employer.

      I know someone who has taught at a pre-training course for three years. He’s never had a student get an apprenticeship, or any kind of job, in the industry. His mates in the industry won’t touch anyone disadvantaged enough to be on a pretraining course. They can pick and choose because there are for more wanting apprenticeships than places available. Middle class kids seem to be most likely to get apprenticeships via word of mouth. They are very seldom (if ever) advertised.

      Oh, and good point Karol.

      • karol 2.1.1

        You describe a pretty appalling situation, js.

        And this is pretty worrying:

        Middle class kids seem to be most likely to get apprenticeships via word of mouth. They are very seldom (if ever) advertised.,/i>

      • Rogue Trooper 2.1.2

        I worked, briefly, for a Plastering contractor (a “Christian” from a rather ‘exclusive’ witnessing denomination). he paid me $12 and hour (approx 5 years ago) to measure, cut and mount gib independently in some flash HN houses, and also to plaster outdoor walls; He charged me out to the customers at $25 per hour. (shakes head).

    • Draco T Bastard 2.2

      Question you need to ask yourself is why are tradesmen not training up apprentices.

      Oh, that’s easy – because they’re not being paid to. Or, to be more precise, they’re being paid to do a job in some really stupidly constrained time limit which doesn’t allow for training anyone and they’re not being paid enough to cover any slack that a trainee would entail.

      They go into competition against you, this is a biggy, trades people are making a killing because there’s a shortage of skilled people, they don’t want that to change in a hurry.

      That would be the competition of the free-market at work.

  3. Helen Kelly 3

    Interestingly Karol if you want to be an ECE teacher, the training is widely accessible as are for example communications and journalism. You don’t need a job to generate these oppourtunites to train. With aged care the problem is employers don’t want training because they fear it will drive wages up. I haven’t tried to deal with pay equity in this column. That is a whole other issue – but it wont be solved by not training plumbers (will it might actually but there are health issues that will arise!).

    • karol 3.1

      Thanks, Helen. I agree there needs to be training for plumbers etc. But there are various female-dominated jobs that require some sort of training, and that don’t require a university qualification. Aged care is a good example. And yes, the employers will always be concerned about pushing wages up if equality was achieved.

      The training I was talking about isn’t ECE teaching. In the UK, I was training those who work with children, but don’t require a teaching certificate. In the UK they have traditionally been called nursery nurses and teachers’ assistants.

  4. captain hook 4

    The thing is they, and you know who they are know that when they need tradespeople they can bring in workers from other countries and sweatshop them for lower wages and conditions.
    Its just more crummy tory crap.

    • just saying 4.1

      I forgot to mention, the pre-training teacher I mentioned before (who is in Auckland, I’m not), said that the industry there will to be dominated by immigrants very soon, for the reason you say: sweat-shopped for lower wages and conditions.

  5. Yes 5

    Unions have many investments in ITO’s and run and manage them. They are all heavily funded by the government (past and present.)

    Isn’t that the issue they are not delivering?

  6. Rob 6

    Absolutly agree with this. I think one of the issues is that an ITO (certainly the ones i have experience with like Competenz and BCITO) are charged with facilitating training opportunities and that they actually do not do the training themselves.Their regional managers try to locate good trainers (not always easy) and then link these trainers to training events and trainees.

    We are really missing out on strong apprenticeship there is no doubt and also missing out on the lack of solid technical graduates that we used to have with NZCE, NZCS type technicians.

    • karol 6.1

      But ultimately, doesn’t the buck stop with the government as Helen says in her post?

      NZITO has charitable status.

      And, it looks like the main funding for training comes from the government in the form of subsidies. The rest is “user pays” – so who is that “user”? Looks like the trainee?

      The New Zealand Industry Training Organisation operates on a user pays basis and it also offers employers training subsidies, for certain programmes. These subsidies are administered on behalf of the Ministry of Education and the Tertiary Education Commission. To qualify for funding support an employee must first meet the following criteria.

  7. sid 7

    I am a trade tutor at one of the biggest polytechnics in Auckland, and I agree with pretty much everything in the above article.
    However, considering the rebuild of Christchurch and the projected population growth in Auckland, resulting in a demand increase for tradespeople, it seems obvious that industry alone cannot train the required trades people.
    I have been advocating now for several years that as an alternative to the apprenticeship model (industry pathway) an educational pathway through the polytechnics is a very viable option. The idea is to have one “national qualification” into which both pathways lead independently.
    This option was tried and adopted in Germany in the late 70’ies and 80’ies, in order to grow the industry in certain areas in a planed framework, and thereby assure a high quality of trades training. Germany had made the experience that training their own tradespeople was a key factor to grow the industries for a high quality production and performance.
    Therefore, handing trade training over to industry alone, seems to me not only short-sighted but costly in the medium to long term.
    In the latest TRoQ (Targeted Review of Qualifications) developments that canvass the trades, it already is becoming apparent that trade training is being handed solely over to the ITO’s and industry. This in itself has only financial reasons, as government is looking for the cheapest delivery pathway.
    Trade training is not resulting any more in a well rounded and knowledgeable tradesperson, but in a semi-skilled labourer, who only has been able to learn what the company has to offer. The specialisation of that company, however sophisticated it maybe in their field, is quite often very limited. Re-employability for such trained apprentices, when they become unemployed, is therefore limited as they are so specialised and any new job they start is like a new training start.
    This obviously results in low starting wages each time thus trained tradespeople start new employment and the impact on productivity etc are unavoidable.

    • xtasy 7.1

      “Therefore, handing trade training over to industry alone, seems to me not only short-sighted but costly in the medium to long term.”

      Industry there (in Germany and some other European countries) tends to train, when they see prospective need. But many “Mittelstand” companies do it also out of solid belief that they have a duty and an interest to train young workers. As there are always economic fluctuations, also there training fluctuates correspondingly. But yes, the state has a role to plan, together with industries, to ensure enough people get trained and educated, to meet future demands.

      Sadly in NZ the governments of past decades threw out the whole lot, and left it to business to do its thing. As we know now, they could mostly not bother, and if shortages occurred, it was the scream for opening up more migration. The same harmful effects occured with safety and other aspects, and hence we had the Pike River disaster, same as a high rate of accidents and fatalities in forestry.

      It is totally overdue to rethink the whole agenda. And I was encouraged today, watching a bit of Parliament TV, to see Sue Moroney, Darien Fenton and that member from the Greens cooperating, to stress, we need a different environment for workers, ensuring collective negotiations, unions and worker’s rights are respected again!

      Sadly the government is two faced, wanting to bring in check inspectors for mines, but doing little else, even loosening up tea and lunch break rules, so employers can basically deny workers their breaks, which will lead to serious health and safety issues, due to workers being over stressed, tired, distracted and prone to perform poorly, leading to accidents or even fatalities.

      NZ is far behind the standards upheld in most of Europe. But we know Key and Nats, they just love to rubbish Europe and blame the working conditions there for the other issues. That is absurd and pure propaganda and distraction. Sadly so many Kiwis are ill informed and do not know they are being shafted!

    • Rogue Trooper 7.2

      a problematic trend in the automotive engineering trades has seen a portion of trainees, poly-tech grads, directed into specialized sub-fields of the trade, automatic transmissions, electronics, for example and missing out on the broad range of exposure and experiences that were more typical in earlier decades. Furthermore, a greater part of the roles now involved simple component replacement, with larger repairs / overhauls also being directed to ‘specialists’ in their field. Human nature being what it is, the ‘cream’ of work is often protected by older trades-people.

  8. Logie97 8

    Just like to point out that you can delete “teacher” from your initial paragraph with the development of charter schools.

  9. BrucetheMoose 9

    The National lead government trashed the long standing formal apprenticeship system in the early 90’s at the behest of the larger building industry players and developers, mainly because they couldn’t be bothered training people and they wanted to casualize the building sector to force wage rates down. The govt. then put in place training systems that were inadequate and ill-disciplined. End result, the whole training regime became run down to where uptake was severely compromised. The incoming Labour lead government tried to breathe life back into it in 2000 with the Modern Apprenticeship scheme, but it was too late by then, the damage was done. You need continuality to maintain a high standard and consistent trained trade workforce. A whole generation of trades people have gone by the wayside now. It will take another generation to claw it back, but it still won’t get back to previous standards it once was. Ironic the now National government is trying to resuscitate it again. A bit too late now to undo the damage. Shows the severe lack of foresight National has when forming policies.

  10. xtasy 10

    “The marvellous book I referred to in my last blog had examples of how Europe deals with training. It points out actually that workers in unionised plants are more likely to get access to continuing vocational training, but it does not provide similar evidence for the basic training opportunities. It gives a good further illustration of the benefits of industry level collective bargaining – workers are able to influence training outcomes and accommodate issues such as costs, leave etc within a bargaining framework which also protects employers from threats such as the poaching of trained staff by employers not investing in training. Discussions at the industry level occur within an industry bargaining framework including on continuing education. The training is also tied to pay and conditions and appears effective in many European countries to ensure workers and employers have the skills they need.”

    Oh, Helen, how I damned well welcome this!

    Yes, training in many professional activities, particularly trades, industry, and the lower levels of science related, or service focused industries in New Zealand has been so damned neglected. I would really hope that one day we can see apprenticeships offered to not just a few hundred or a few thousand in selected professions or trades but industry wide.

    And with that, I dream of the skills and knowledge of well trained workers to be reflected in fair and liveable pay and wages, so that New Zealanders of all levels of education and training can say, I am getting what I am worth!

    That is a dream scenario at present, with so many not offered anything, but very basic on the job training, unless, as you say, they are middle class with parents that can afford to assist, that can perhaps otherwise access student loans and get into tertiary courses.

    New Zealand even educates experts that it exports, be this in law, accounting, in medical professions and the likes, but the trades here are treated abysmally.

    Look at Europe, especially Central Europe, and you will see, how more successful and more stable, also more participatory societies are made. I dream that one day NZ governments will wake up to a full potential of well skilled, trained and qualified workers at all levels, who also deserve good pay and participation in business, and more.

    There are endless opportunities, from as humble as bee keeping, baking, building, manufacturing, to higher skills in engineering and science. Wake up NZ, but it will not happen under this lot running the show, and sadly not be implemented, not even voted for by a lame duck, before even voted for, David Shearer. Heed the news, the messages from the bottom, and bring us a true leader, thanks, Helen, why do you not consider?

  11. Descendant Of Sssmith 11

    You’re forgetting that many many of the apprenticeships were actually done in the public sector not in the private sector.

    Railway workshops, hospitals, MOW, post office, and so on all had fitters, welders, electricians, carpenters, cabinet makers, etc.

    If you asked a group of self employed tradesman over 50 how many did their apprenticeship in the public service you’ll find the figure was surprisingly high.

    TEC also operated on a strange system where training provides submitted and developed the courses they wanted to run which they then did a scan of the labour market.

    The whole move away from centralised planning and management has been a disaster. The privatisation of training also resulted in cheap and piss poor training – a proliferation of courses such as recreational diving (how many millions were spent with Dive HQ. trained a few paua poachers though.)

    The private sector has always been pretty crap at training people and without the influx of apprentices out of the public sector they simply are not picking up the slack.

    Once again they have taken the work off the state, not invested in an ongoing work force as the state did and taken the savings from this lack of investment out in profit. Having extracted the profit and advocated and paid lower taxes they now want more taxpayer funds.

    I note they are not saying we’ll pay a bit more tax so the state can afford this.

    • tc 11.1

      You’ve nailed it, the flow of skilled trained resource dried up with destruction of such entities as railway workshops, PTT apprenticeships etc

      Add in the lure of better wages and conditions across the ditch and the Nats destruction of apprenticeship schemes in the 90’s and we are screwed now for decades to come even if the gov’t got off its neo lib arse which it will not as the market is god and always correct.

    • Draco T Bastard 11.2

      Yep, it’s the public sector that is the source of all wealth in a society but we’ve been told over the last few decades that it’s the private sector that is the source and we’ve bought into that lie.

  12. Darel Hall 12

    Helen, you acknowledge the oversupply of skills (builders, lawyers, etc) as being unproblematic because skills are adaptable (transferable). Then you lament the undersupply of other skills. Surely the two ideas belong together.

    Firstly if you’re relaxed about oversupply then you have to be relaxed about undersupply. They are related phenomenon.

    Secondly, the more subsidy/ incentive that follows the oversupply area the less available for the under supply areas.

    It is not the case that the trades you’ve listed are only available through an ITO. Most can be done through a polytechnic and many through Private Training Establishments and of course Wananga. Getting a job in a trade with small numbers at the other end might be problematic, but that doesn’t seem to be your argument.

    Apprenticeships have never gone away. The regulation that defined an apprentice has. That means it is difficult to count. I did some work in the mid-1990s and I calculated that the proportion of young people in structured training for a level 4 qualification (ie a basic trade certificate) in industry training alone (ie excluding institutional pathways) was just under what it was in the late 1980s. This was the peak of the old system before apprenticeships as a pathway declined rapidly due primarily to the decline in the public sector workforce and the government’s assumed responsibility to train people in this way as well as growth in training pathways in industries that weren’t part of the old order.

    The history is covered here: http://www.itf.org.nz/assets/Publications/Literacy-Publications/ITF-Funding-History.pdf.

    Helen, your argument appears to boil down to access. Well Industry Training expanded quickly from about 1999/ 2000. Access wasn’t an obvious problem, quality was at times. I don’t believe there is good evidence for systemic access problems.


    Darel Hall
    Executive Director
    Industry Training Federation 2002 – 2006

    • Helen Kelly 12.1

      Darel – I dont agree the under and over supply issues belong together. My point is that oversupply can be short term and education is good in its own right. Under supply is a huge problem – both for industry but also for workers that are looking for employment. Actually my blog was about the undersupply of training oppourtunties. While there may be an issue of resources going in the wrong place if there is oversupply in some areas – there is no evidence of this in the trades sector – there simply seems to be a lack of places and training opps. One of the problems is not enough employers offering training ops. This is a different problem to the under/over supply issue. As you will know training is different than getting a qualification – a qualification is a whole and while there may be lots of training going on and lower level courses available at polytechs etc, if you want to be a teacher or a lawyer – you can get a full qualification without the sort of challenge doing the same in plumbing creates. Yes my concern is about access and access to quality training leading to proper qualifications. It doesnt claim to be anything else. I think there is very good evidence of systematic access problems and you just have to talk to parents of young workers to see it in action.

      • Darel Hall 12.1.1

        Helen, thank you for responding.

        In case anyone asks about motives, no one has asked me to engage, I just happen to have valued my time with industry training and think the evidence shows that what we did and what they do now is good.

        I agree with the proposition that the first qualification for younger people usually makes sense. After that matters get less clear.

        If the issue is about whether industry training (by that I mean ITO arranged training) leads to whole qualifications then there isn’t much of an issue. There is some ITO training in Limited and Supplementary Credit Programmes (about 15% according to this BERL report using TEC stats) which are not whole qualifications, but part of whole qualifications. On the other hand LCPS and SCPS are often critical skills, effectively a licence to operate so are well supported.

        Other phenomena include more mature people seeking skills through papers or units rather than qualifications. Also older people often want qualifications to certify the skills they want rather than do extra work to get a qualification for skills they don’t want. So we have smaller but still “proper” qualifications.

        If the issue is about access opportunities no matter what the pathway then I don’t agree there are significant access problems. Tertiary organisations work hard to maintain their numbers and to fill vacant places.

        The latest figures from 2012 show 2,956 EFTS (equivalent full-time students) paid for by TEC but not delivered by the tertiary sector so there is a little bit of funded access available. There were also 5,485 EFTS delivered but not funded. On the whole the sector delivers 97.1% of planned delivery. It is tight but there is still a little room to move.

        My point about oversupply is that if you are comfortable about oversupply in one area, then given funding constraints you must necessarily be comfortable (in a system sense, not callous about an individual’s aspirations) with under-supply in other areas. If you are arguing there ought to be more places per se then that’s different and I understand your point. But then why is this piece so specifically negative about industry training access?

        This really is a longer discussion face to face to understand positions better (a debate I am no longer part of). It may be that I have reacted more strongly against a position than you intended to put, but I also feel and think very strongly about this one.

        Thanks again,


  13. quicksilver 13

    I completed an engineering apprenticeship with a fertiliser co-op (owned by the dirty farmers no doubt) The pay started on 42% of a tradesman’s wage. It was hard and dirty work, and if you didn’t show up (like many of today’s youth tend to do consistently) you got a bollocking & arse kicking. The absolutely worst, lazy, bad attitude Tradesmen had come out of the NZ Railways or other State employers.. or the cloth cap poms. They would strike, sabotage, sleep.. at the drop of a hat.

    • just saying 13.1

      Good to see you tugging your forlock at Ravensdown, an environmental wrecking-ball, and employee exploiter, while slagging-off those that don’t or didn’t share your abject servility.

      • quicksilver 13.1.1

        Wrong, not Ravensdown. Wrong, forlock tugging. Wrong, “environmental wrecking ball”. Wrong, “employee exploiter”. Wrong, “abject servility”. “just spouting shit” may be a more apt handle for you.

        • just saying

          (owned by the dirty farmers no doubt)

          I’m guessing you know. Is there another farmer-owned fertiliser coop?

  14. Lloyd 14

    Thanks for this Helen

    It was the introduction of the Industry Training Act in 1992 that did the damage. This diseastablished the entire apprenticeship system and killed off the apprenticeship culture.

    This Act was driven by the Employment Contracts Act due to the philosophical drive to disestablish binding secure employment arrangements and an apprenticeship was the most binding secure arrangement that existed. So – goodbye apprenticeships, hello trainees. The word ‘apprentice’ was removed completely from the Act and everybody was a ‘trainee’. Adding insult to injury the word came back into vogue as “modern apprenticeships”.

    ASTE Te Hau Takitini o Aotearoa fought these changes (as did the CTU of 1991) but as with the destruction of other cultures once it is gone it is hard to get back. ASTE also repeatedly pointed out the wasteful ways of the ITOs (for example – one year, (I forget which but around 2000) only 15% of all Govt income to the Electrical ITO was actually spent on education with the rest spent on ‘infrastrucute’ or as we said back then “ITOs are businesses in the business of being ITOs, not in the business of good trades education”.

    Many Unions in NZ bought into this system. Some are still involved. It has been a disaster for workers, young people, tertiary education and ‘industry’ overall. There is one ITO that has NEVER had one trainee pass the qualification.

    Anyway, I could rave and get angry for hours but to be honest I have given up.

    It is great to see it brought up but I fear genuine quality trades education has been killed off, buried deep, and despite the current fashion for zombie revival will stay dead and buried.

  15. quicksilver 15

    There certainly was back then. My comment should have read “no less” rather than “no doubt”. But address the points why don’t you.. which refute some of the crap spouted here regarding the good old railway workshops, and the dirty old employers/trainers. Since that time I have been very involved in training my own workers, and also leading/managing those with a variety of backgrounds.. Apprenticeships, ITO’s, Polytechs.. The less influence they had had from a state owned & Unionised environment, the more skilled, more productive, better paid and happier they were. Fact.

    • just saying 15.1

      The less influence they had had from a state owned & Unionised environment, the more skilled, more productive, better paid and happier they were. Fact.

      Citation required. We’ve had numerous stories backed by hard data on ‘The Standard’ which show unionised worker are better paid that their non-unionised contemporaries, so you’ll need more than just anecdote to refute the facts.

      • quicksilver 15.1.1

        I don’t need citation for what is clearly commented as my own experience. I have lead probably 3-400 Tradesmen in my career as a leading hand, foreman, business owner, supervisor, site manager & project manager. I have also made hiring recommendations or recruited many more. On all types of projects, large & small. I would be fairly certain that most of the people with a similar background to me would say the same. I completed my apprenticeship as a fitter turner around the time the Think Big Projects (esp Motonui) were winding down. The very worst bunch came from the railway workshops in Dunedin. What’s your experience with apprenticeships/industry training just saying?

        • Draco T Bastard

          One of the main differences I’ve seen between people who were trained in the public service and those trained in the private sector is the public service peoples ability and desire to get in and do the job no matter what it takes without complaint. Don’t see that from the private sector.

  16. Venezia 16

    Helen – can you please provide the details of the book you mention above? I have checked your earlier posting. It gives Susan Hayter as editor but no actual title.

    • Helen Kelly 16.1

      The Role of Collective Bargaining in the Global Economy – Negotiating for Social Justice. Edited by Susan Hayter. Published by Edward Elgar publishing in association with the ILO 2011

  17. Rosetinted 17

    How do these political and business fools think that we can maintain ourselves as a developed nation if everything we do is shoddy. If we don’t have any principled and trained people to do things. And how can we have industry making high value products without well trained capable people in the same sector to integrate with. Eventually we will have no smart, new technology people who want to stay here doing value added stuff and novel business for the 21st century.

    It is crazy and an obvious moral hazard to adopt a practice of worshipping business as a highly principled entity, when it is long known the large amount of lying about how ethical and logical it is. Then building on the lie so it is left to train its own workers, monitor its own work hazards, inspect the efficacy of its own structures and performance, govern its own wage payments, its own hours, its own treatment of staff, force other businesses to the wall, decide on ways of tax avoidance with government’s approbration.

    The right wing pollies both Labour and National have been running us into the ground since they went critical on the unions and started treating women and youth as breeding stock, of an inferior type.

  18. Darel Hall 18

    Dear Lloyd

    It is not true that “It was the introduction of the Industry Training Act in 1992 that did the damage”. Apprentices declined by 41% from a peak of 28,383 in 1987 to 16,711 in 1992. The Industry Training Act was a response not a cause of this change (page 9 http://www.itf.org.nz/assets/Publications/Literacy-Publications/ITF-Funding-History.pdf).

    No one was prevented from using the term apprentice. Being a trainee for funding purposes didn’t change the elements of being an apprentice ie preparing for a trade, at work, with a mentor who is a senior tradesperson.

    The anecdotes you and Helen use may be true but there isn’t a good reference to allow me to find out. In any event you both typically use matters which are not central features of or the common experience of industry training.

    There are genuine choices of pathways (institution or ITO) for people in the occupations Helen cites.

    The history referenced says that Ministers didn’t think highly of Polytechnics ability to deliver what industry wanted (p9 and 11) so took $23m (p15) from them to fund ITOs. That funding has grown and some people resent this and still believe there was more to the original decision than what people stated.



    • Descendant Of Sssmith 18.1

      Be interesting if you could show split data for private versus public sector apprenticeships.

      How many apprenticeships were being done in the public sector that vanished.

      And to those trying to say lots of the public sector apprentices were crap that’s a nonsense.

      Both private and public sector produced some crap workers during the 70’s and 80’s as they continue to do so now but those workers can’t be generalised to say public sector apprentices were crap.

      Many of the public sector workers following the reforms went into business for themselves or others and continue to be successful here or overseas.

    • Descendant Of Sssmith 18.2

      Be interesting if you could show split data for private versus public sector apprenticeships.

      How many apprenticeships were being done in the public sector that vanished.

      And to those trying to say lots of the public sector apprentices were crap that’s a nonsense.

      Both private and public sector produced some crap workers during the 70’s and 80’s as they continue to do so now but those workers can’t be generalised to say public sector apprentices were crap.

      Many of the public sector workers following the reforms went into business for themselves or others and continue to be successful here or overseas.

    • quicksilver 18.3

      Don’t dare try and insert any facts into a Standard ideological rant Darel, you’ll be banned faster than a Leftie doing the 50m sprint to the public trough. 🙂

  19. Rosetinted 19

    I have just tried to edit but it wouldn’t go past the save stage and just stayed in the edit window until time ran out.

  20. Rogue Trooper 20

    well, workshops are finding it difficult to find experienced, competent diesel mechanics, locally, anyway.

  21. helen Kelly 21

    Here is the short term skills shortage list for immigration- baker, mechanic, arborist (sigh)


    The Canterbury list (lost oppourtunity – the only good thing that might have come out of Chch is training)


    Long term list slightly better – but Chef – how many chef apprentiships in Wgtn? I heard only one – but maybe there are hundreds with all the restaurants and I am missing it!


    • karol 21.1

      immigration skills short list: beef & cattle farmers? Seriously? Several “oil and gas” occupations?

      And registered nurses on the long term list, and 2 or 3 ICT occupations?

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