New Zealand once had an apprenticeship system that for many decades turned out some of the world’s best tradesmen.
That’s all gone to hell now. Despite a huge shortage of skilled labour, a huge industry trainining bureacracy and large amounts of taxpayers cash, apprenticeship numbers are actually decreasing in some industries.
Now the government has sacked the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board, basically for refusing to pass poorly trained apprentices to get the government’s statistics looking healthy.
The mass sacking came in the wake of an independent report ordered after a long-running stoush between the board and its industry training organisation.
The resulting systems failure meant not enough apprentices were becoming registered to meet demand despite millions more being pumped into training.
The report, prepared by lawyer Hazel Armstrong, highlights a dysfunctional relationship between the two groups that had led to “paralysis” in the industry.
The report pinned some blame on overlapping jurisdiction between the two in relation to qualifications, but said the board had also stepped outside its statutory roles in imposing its own testing regime.
Last year, only 11 per cent of those who achieved their national certificate passed the board’s registration exam.
Just 4 per cent of those who had worked under supervision for five years passed.
The Government is worried that it has pumped $24 million into training over the past six years, but the number of new entrants has decreased.
An industry shortage could be seen as an embarrassment, given its stated commitment to addressing the problem through its Modern Apprenticeships programme.
Board chairman Terry Wynyard described the report yesterday as “grossly unfair” and said it failed to address the “abject failure” of the national certificate.
He said the board had refused to budge on its position in the interests of public safety.
“There was no way the board could gerrymander pass rates when the ITOs unit standards were substandard.”
New Zeal Just as an aside, Hazel Armstrong is a long time Labour Party activist, who used to be a reporter for the pro Soviet, Socialist Unity Party’s newspaper “Tribune”.