Primary ITO chief executive Nigel Philpott says the $230m Apprenticeship Boost extension will help future proof the sector
Apprentices and employers have welcomed news that the Apprenticeship Boost Initiative, which provides payments to firms that take on apprentices and was due to expire at the end of August 2022, has been extended by 14 months.
Originally intended to run from August 2020 to April 2022, the Apprenticeship Boost initiative was extended by four months in March 2021. It has now been extended for a second time and will run until December 2023, providing a $230m injection into apprenticeships across the country.
“We’ve seen massive growth in apprenticeship numbers since the Apprenticeship Boost was launched at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Philpott.
“Last year, we enrolled over 4,000 new apprentices and now have nearly 8,000 in training. These people will make a huge contribution to the skills that our sectors need.”
Cash for apprentices
The Apprenticeship Boost initially supported firms that hire apprentices by providing cash payments of $1,000 a month for the first year and $500 a month for the second year. To date, the scheme has provided support to 17,000 employers.
Before landscapers start rubbing their hands together in glee, continued support comes with a caveat: the amounts paid out will drop. First-year apprentices will now be supported to the tune of $500 per month, instead of $1,000. Second-year support will remain the same, at $500.
With lower costs involved, Philpott is hopeful that more people will continue to be attracted to the industry.
“The growth we’ve had shows that the cost of training was a barrier for employers and prospective apprentices. It is fantastic to see that recognised by extending the financial support.”
With around 1,700 apprentices engaged in landscaping, arboriculture, sports turf and amenity courses, Philpott added that the Apprenticeship Boost is helping the industry future-proof its success.
“Apprenticeships are becoming an increasingly important feature of the primary sector.
“In future years, we will see the growing pipeline of apprentices graduating, becoming industry leaders and taking on their own apprentices. The investment going in is extremely welcome now when employers are crying out for skilled people.”
At the start of June 2022, a total of 537 people were enrolled with Primary ITO in a landscaping apprenticeship; an increase of 39 on the same time last year. Across all sectors, in 2021 Primary ITO had nearly 8,000 apprentices, up from approximately 6,000 in 2020.
Education Minister Chris Hipkins said the $230m investment will provide for 24,000 new apprentices, and 14,000 existing ones.
“There are already 17,000 employers involved in the programme and today’s investment means new employers can join up,” he added.
Landscapers can apply for the Apprenticeship Boost if their apprentices are enrolled in an apprenticeship programme approved and funded by the Tertiary Education Commission or Managed Apprenticeship programme and have done less than 24 months of their training.