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Training help for young staff

Skill shortages are still the main issue facing New Zealand companies. Automation and digitisation may deliver many opportunities for growth, but only for those businesses that are ready and have invested in the skills and infrastructure to thrive in this latest industrial environment.

The recent Government report, From the Knowledge Wave to the Digital Age (July 2019), mentioned that skills and capabilities needed to succeed in the workforce will shift. Many jobs will require more social and emotional skills as well as more advanced cognitive capabilities, such as logical reasoning and creativity.

While some New Zealand businesses are already grasping this opportunity and are making dramatic changes to their workforces, there are still needs to be met in their current workforce demands today.

Strength in work

Employers looking for staff are starting to look at new initiatives that can help. One such helpful programme is “Mana in Mahi” (Strength in Work) administered by MSD (the Ministry for Social Development). This programme helps employers build a future by giving a young person (aged 18-24 years) the opportunity for a full-time job, of at least 30 hours a week at the adult minimum wage.

The employer will need to support the employee towards a qualification that is approved by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA), in the industry of the job, or move the young person towards an industry-equivalent qualification in the job.

For the employer, MSD pays financial support through a wage subsidy for 12 months, as well as funding to help cover any pre-employment or on-the-job training costs.

The following amounts are available for the employer:

• $9580 subsidy payment (paid in two lump sums of $4790), and

• up to $2000 for pre-employment training or on-the-job training.

MSD will arrange regular visits with the employer and the employee once employment starts, to get feedback on how things are going and what further help the parties may need.


Another initiative that helps employers find young staff is micro-credentials, which are standalone education credits intended for trainees or people in the workplace to access specific skills. Worth five to 40 credits, micro-credentials are smaller than qualifications and focus on skill development opportunities not currently catered for in the tertiary education system.

Employers or industry sectors can partner with Tertiary Education Organisations (ie, regional private training establishments or metropolitan polytechnics or industry training organisations) that are able to work with you to develop a micro-credential that will contain the skills and knowledge you need.

Recent examples include micro-credentials from the Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation for learners gaining the skills and knowledge to install kitchens to professional standards, and from Competenz for skilled workers in the forestry sector who have trained to plant trees.

The option of gaining micro-credentials will make it easier for anyone to retrain, upskill or return to the workforce quickly. Micro-credentials will become more important in lifelong learning for people to update their skills continually. To date, the NZQA has a register of approved micro-credentials at www.nzqa.govt.nz/nzqf/search/microcredentials.do

Craig Sidoruk is a human resource and employment relations specialist with Business Central in Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne. If you would like to know more, contact him at 027 292 9330 or email craig.sidoruk@businesscentral.org.nz