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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Apprenticeship Issues

Spome commenters on my previous post raised some important questions re NZ's dying apprenticeship system.

Anonymous said...
As we live in a free market system if there was really a massive problem getting skilled employees the employer would just have to raise wages. A private training system could also easily open up or a private apprentice scheme could be started without too much hassle.

That is if the free market is the answer to all our problems.

New Zeal Sadly we do not live in a free market system. We endure a mixed economy with some socialist and some free market elements.

It's true that the price of labour responds to market forces just like the price of tomatoes or houses.

However training skilled labour takes time so there can be a big gap between high labour prices and increased labour supply in a given field.

However, the real problem in NZ is this. We had a very good apprenticeship system for over 100 years. In the early '90s this was almost destroyed in favour of a highly bureaucratic, complicated and expensive "seamless education" system that was based on "unit standards"-just like the trouble ridden NCEA system in high schools.

This virtually destroyed what little was left of the system as tradesmen could no longer be bothered training apprentices.

This led to a 20 year skills gap-there are now very few highly skilled tradesmen under 40. Many older tradesmen have gone into management or left the trade entirely.
Therefore there are too few highly skilled tradesmen left to train even the few apprentices coming through the system.

Good tradesmen are now getting bloody good wages-as they should, but the productive sector is severely retarded because we simply don't have enough of them.

"Unit Standards" must be abolished and the market must be allowed to function before the meagre skills stock we have left is completely lost.

Sam Buchanan said...
While I agree that government bureaucrats seldom do anything right, business also has to take some of the blame.

I started out studyinmg engineering as an NZCE student, whereby I studied at polytech part-time while working in the industry - the certificate required three years of related work in addition to the study. Not long after I finished, the course became full-time only. The rationale being that employers didn't want to give people time off to study, and preferred to hire somebody who had gone off and done the training at their own expense.

Businesses are often quite happy to have the government and individuals - or other businesses - carry the costs of training their staff, believing that they can simply buy the skills as required. Of course, if everyone is doing this, the skills simply won't be there to be bought.

New Zeal Quite right Sam, they won't. This illustrates the dangers of allowing government to become involved in training in the first place. I know that in my own industry, my colleagues were sucked into accepting the "unit standards" system because it was the only way the government would fund training at all. They should have told the government to take a hike and got on with it themselves.

Businessmen can be as shortsighted as anyone else. Let the government take over you responsibilities and they will mess it up. Nothing surer.

I personally think most training should take place on the job, with possibly a small theoretical component contracted out to private training establishments. This should run by the relevant industries-not by the state.

If you are foolishly going to allow the state into industry training, its role should be kept to the absolute minimum.

Anonymous said...
49% of Uni students at Vic uni don't finish their degree in the initial 3-year period.
Gonna whinge about that?

New Zeal Yes I will actually. We now have an apprenticeship system, so bureaucratic that half of trainess never finish their "time".

Meanwhile we have a tertiary education sector, sucking in any semi-literate they can find, to fill seats and guarantee government funding and lecturers jobs.

Who loses? Young people, that's who.

Instead of gaining a meaningful trade that will set them up for life, thousands of young people are wasting their time and accumulating debt, doing near useless university or polytech courses or being scammed by dodgy private "training providers".

In most of Europe, nearly all non university bound youngsters, undertake apprenticeships or similar training.

To be blunt, I would like to see university student numbers halved and apprenticeships and cadetships quintupled.

I would like to see 80% of school leavers in trade training or studying nursing, primary teaching, journalism, accountancy, IT etc etc etc ON THE JOB.

I would rather see 5,000 university lecturers flipping burgers at McDonalds, than hundreds of thousands of youngsters denied the opportunity to acquire something of real value-a trade.

Maybe I'm a bit soft, but it makes me sick to my guts, to see the huge waste of young lives in this country, in order to benefit bludging bureacrats, up themselves academics and mercenary "training providers."

Fuck 'em I say. Put the kids first.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This problem is happening across the globe. In the past, apprenticeship programs were valued as desirable career chooses and parents encouraged their children to seek skilled trades’ profession. Now trades work is viewed as less than the professionals whom they are. However, until we can again value trades worker as professional, we will continue to see a sharp decline in these professions.

Trades women & manager of several apprenticeship programs.

11:13 PM  

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