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Monday, August 20, 2007

Apprenticeship System Buggered by Bureaucrats

This week I've been working alongside two apprentices. One is the the 5th year of his 3 year apprenticeship, the other is in her 7th.

Our tiny apprenticeship system is in very bad shape. Over-bureaucratised and burdened with the loathsome, inefficient and useless "unit standards" system, employers are simply opting out.

No matter how much money the government pumps into apprenticeships, it will fail, because our once simple and effective system has been buggered by the bureaucrats.

Peter Cresswell at Not PC nails it;

Tradesmen are the workers of the world. Successful tradesmen are the lifeblood of an industrial economy; their intelligent labours make possible the production and infrastructure without which there is no industrial economy.

New Zealand has too few tradesmen, too few apprentices and the number is getting fewer. Traditional apprenticeships were killed off by the so called "seamless education" promoted by Lockwood Smith's NCEA, and Labour's so called "Modern Apprenticeships" have signally failed to fulfil the headline promises of posturing politicians.

Last year it was revealed for example that only 11 percent of the students who passed their National Certificate in Politically Correct Plumbing managed to subsequently pass a genuinely testing examination that was set by the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board.

And this morning's Press reveals [hat tip Whale Oil] that even those students who start these "Modern Apprenticeships" are mostly failing to finish.
Figures made public suggest [only] 46 per cent of those enrolled in 2001 and 2002 completed their training in the expected four years.

A calculation that's beyond most NCEA graduates reveals that 54 percent of those starting these apprenticeships failed to finish. That's pathetic. "More than $100 million has been committed to [Labour's "Modern Apprencticeship" scheme] since its launch in 2000," yet "as at December 31, [only] 9466 active modern apprentices were in training," and barely 3000 had completed their training.

That really is pathetic. Unemployment among sixteen- to seventeen-year-olds is at fourteen percent; loads of youngsters are heading off to uni to get degrees in "visual communications design," "contemporary cultural studies," and "critical education theory." Meanwhile, the country's employers are crying out for skilled tradesmen. Has anyone idea where they're going to come from, or how it's possible to interest youngsters in learning about good tradecraft instead of bullshit?

Perhaps it might encourage them if they learned that New Zealand's richest man started out in life as an apprentice panel beater?

See also:

Apprenticeship, the overlooked institution - Trevor Loudon

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3


Anonymous 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.

9:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous 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.

10:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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

12:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

obviously those 43% are typical labour layabouts - they know the labour government will allow them to sit on their arses and claim unemployment benefits or send them on those good courses such as politically correct knitting for men

1:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sam, your experiences mirror my own. When I left school in the late 80s, I wanted to get an apprentiship, but there was not one to be had in my part of the country.So I went to tech full time.

The company I work for now has started it's own cadetship programme and it's working very well I think.

But many businesses will not have the resources to chuck at training like my employer, what about them?


12:21 PM  

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