Training scheme funding review could solve worker shortages - AWF

Changes to Government funding of skills training and apprenticeship schemes could solve worker shortages, AWF chief executive Mike Huddleston says.

Allied Work Force (AWF) Group’s chief executive believes a Government review of funding for training schemes for youths could solve worker shortages.

Mike Huddleston said the solution to worker shortages was not necessarily going off shore, but that a review of Government funding support for employers to aid skills training and apprenticeships for young people, and of the way training in preparing for the workforce was offered to school leavers could be the answer, a release said.

The nationwide AWF Group-Horizon Workforce Survey conducted in August had 2266 total responses from employers and workers and found three of the biggest reasons for rejecting job applicants included having the wrong skills, at 48.3%, a lack of experience at 43.3% and team fit at 43.1%.  The margin of error was +/- 2.1%.

The poll showed a growth in employment, where employers were looking to hire more than they were looking to reduce staff.

18.9% of those who responded said they were unemployed, but more than 170 respondents would have liked their school to have arranged job training with an employer.

Mr Huddleston said in a release that it had become harder for companies such as NZX-listed AWF to take school leavers and help them get experience to get on the employment ladder and to take up apprenticeships. 

He said the Ministry of Social Development would pay the companies to train them and produce outcomes.

“We would work with the schools to identify the young people who would benefit from something like our Cadet Max 12-week construction start up course.  We had an 80% pass rate.  It was a two days working, three days training course so they could earn some money along the way too.”

AWF Group was the biggest supplied of temporary staff in New Zealand, employing up to 3000 people on any given day, the company said.  It was a supplier of temporary staff to most industrial sectors and was an NZQA accredited training organisation, the company said.

Mr Huddleston said AWF Trades division in particular would like to see a review of the government funding for pre-apprenticeship training and work experience systems.

Mr Huddleston said since the demise of the Cadet Max course, AWF had to wait for students to drop out and go through the Work and Income system before it was asked to help.  He said this was often too late, as habits unattractive to employers had developed by then.

“There needs to be a better appreciation that companies like AWF have a far better chance of achieving long term employment outcomes than dedicated training organisations whose responsibility ceases once the training is complete.”

“The country needs to grab these kids and instil work ethics and skills before they cross the bridge into what is often no hope land.”

Mangere College careers advisor Ruth Luketina said in a release that the Cadet Max course was an invaluable resource for its school leavers, and that it was good for students whose families did not have enough money for tertiary training to have an option available where the could train with no fees in a supportive environment.

James Cook High School careers advisor Joy Williams said in the first half of 2008, five of the six students she sent to the Cadet Max scheme gained apprenticeships.

Both Ms Williams and Ms Luketina had more students who wished to enrol when the course was dropped, the release said.