Maori have a proud history in the trades. Under former Maori Trade Training schemes thousands of Maori men, and also women, passed through vocational training and into employment. Maori involvement with trade training began in 1944 under the first Labour Government and continued in various forms up until 1989. The scheme provided opportunities to increase Maori employment and Maori economic potential. According to research from Massey University (not online) 90% of Maori trade training graduates were placed in apprenticeships and many then went on to start their own business or enter higher education. With this in mind it is encouraging to see Labour commit to offering 1000 places in a new Maori Trade Training scheme. Labour’s new scheme will feature partnerships between tertiary providers, Iwi and key industry organisations. Labour has also signalled that pastoral care and mentoring will distinguish the program.
Places will be open to 16 and 17 year olds. The program will, in my opinion, offer a smooth transition from school to training for early school leavers.
With the disaster in Christchurch skilled tradespeople are in high demand and New Zealand’s labour market does not have the capacity to respond. Hopefully, Labour’s commitment to trade training will train enough tradespeople to service Christchurch while maintaining capacity in other centres.
As the election approaches we can probably expect to see more policy drops. The way things are shaping up Maori may have a real reason to vote Labour.