Apprenticeship numbers jump in 2020

  • Hon Chris Hipkins

The number of apprentices continues to grow, with people from across the community signing up for careers in the trades, Education Minister Chris Hipkins says.

Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) data> for enrolments in tertiary and vocational study as at December 2020 shows that the number of apprentices increased by 17.6 per cent compared to 2019 (45,155 in 2019 and 57,035 in 2020).

“The Government has backed the trades with more than $320 million invested in free trades training (TTAF), and nearly $100 million going to support employers retain apprentices and take on new ones through Apprenticeship Boost,” Chris Hipkins said.

“That investment has paid off with double digit growth in apprentice numbers during 2020, despite the impacts of COVID-19. We are seeing people taking the opportunity to becoming apprentices no matter what their age, gender or ethnicity.

“Apprenticeships are traditionally seen as something you do out of school, but with free trades training we are seeing a big jump (19.7%) in workers aged 25 to 39 taking the opportunity for a career change, and more than 1,500 additional apprentices aged over 40.

“The number of Māori and Pacific apprentices grew almost 30 per cent last year, which will benefit the economic development of their communities for years to come. And the number of women training to be apprentices is growing at nearly twice the rate of male apprentices.

“These numbers show we are producing a vibrant and diverse trades workforce that will support New Zealand’s economic growth as we recover from the impacts of COVID-19.

“And we’re seeing strong signs of continued growth in domestic enrolments at tertiary institutions,” Chris Hipkins said.

“Indicative March 2021 data shows the number of domestic students increasing by 12%, compared with around 1% for each of the previous three years, and repeated falls in the full-year enrolment data in years before that.

“Again, the growth in 2021 is more pronounced among older people, with building courses and teacher training standing out.

“It’s rare to see growth in both on and off the job training and education at the same time, when typically as one is up the other is down, depending on the strength of the economy. Avoiding this boom and bust cycle is one of the central pillars of the Reform of Vocational Education and a pleasing sign.”

The December 2020 Enrolment Update is produced by the TEC. It showed that, compared to December 2019, the number of apprentices aged 25 to 39-years-old increased by 3,730 (19.7%) and those 40-years-old and over increased by 1,510 (28.3%). Māori and Pacific apprentice numbers increased by 2,295 (28%) and 965 (29.2%) respectively, compared to 6,355 (16%) for other ethnicities. There was a 29.1 per cent growth rate for women apprentices (1,635) against a 15.9 per cent growth rate for men (6,790).

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