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Free Trades Training

In June, the Government announced significant new financial support for training. Primary ITO explains why this means that there will never be a better time for you or your team to become a qualified landscaper

The new Targeted Training and Apprenticeship Fund (TTAF), also known as ‘Free Trades Training’ package will pay the fees of all Primary ITO apprenticeships, and training across the vast majority of Primary ITO’s programmes. This includes landscaping, parks and garden, and other related programmes.

Additionally, the Government has announced an ‘Apprenticeship Boost’, which promises to pay employers up to $16,000 per apprentice to either employ or retain apprentices over two years.

The Free Trades Training is open from now until the end of 2022, which is why there will never be a better time to train.

All of Primary ITO’s broad range of sectors are covered – including landscaping, agriculture, horticulture, nursery production and others.

At Primary ITO, we recognise that the most valuable thing you can invest in your people is your time – and the Free Trades Training and Apprenticeship Boost can make doing that a bit easier.

For a long time, our industries have been crying out for skilled people. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring in those people and train them with the most up-to-the-minute skills, without having to pay fees. At a time when we all want to see people transitioning from other industries to primary sector careers, this should be an enormous incentive.

Free Trades Training

If you or your staff are enrolled in one of our programmes, the Government will pay the fees from 1 July 2020.

This means Primary ITO won’t need to ask you for any money.

This may also cover situations where you’ve already paid for training that started as far back as July 2019 – Free Trades Training will cover the part of the programme that takes place after 1 July this year. If you have paid fees past 1 July this year, get in touch to discuss having the money returned to you.

Apprenticeship Boost

We also strongly encourage employers to look into Apprenticeship Boost, which will be available from August 2020 and runs for 20 months.

Employers of first and second-year apprentices who are in a Tertiary Education Commission-approved New Zealand Apprenticeship or a Managed Apprenticeship will be able to apply for Apprenticeship Boost through the Ministry of Social Development (MSD).

This can be done whether an apprentice has just started their training programme or is nearing the end of their first two years – right up until the apprentice has completed 24 months of their training programme (while the initiative is running).

An apprentice who is in the first year of their apprenticeship will be eligible for $1,000 per month, and an apprentice in their second year is eligible for $500 per month for a maximum period of 20 months.

Questions about the new ‘Free Trades Training’

We have compiled some frequently asked questions to help you and your teams.

Am I eligible for Free Trades Training?

If you study with Primary ITO, you won’t have to pay for any of our apprenticeships, or for most of our certificates, diplomas and micro-credentials. Please contact us if you have a question about whether a specific programme is included.

How long will my fees be covered for?

Free Trades Training will cover training fees from 1 July 2020 until 31 December 2022.

Do I need to apply to the fund to get my training paid for?

No. Learners do not need to apply for Free Trades Training. If you are enrolled in an eligible training programme, then your fees will be automatically covered. Primary ITO will not need to ask you to pay.

What fees are covered?

If you train in one of the eligible programmes with Primary ITO, Free Trades Training covers all the fees that you (or your employer) would previously have had to pay to Primary ITO for training and assessment. Some other costs of training, such as accommodation and travel on a field trip, are not covered.

Can I still benefit if I am already studying or have paid my fees for 2020?

If you have already enrolled or started an eligible programme that is continuing past 1 July 2020, then your fees will be partly covered. This means your training will be free for the part of the programme that happens after 1 July, and you may receive a part-refund.

If you are in a programme that started just before 1 July 2020, the training for this slightly earlier start date may also be covered.

Will the Government cover the fees for non-New Zealand residents?

Yes. Free Trades Training will also pay the training fees of non-residents providing they meet the conditions of a training agreement.

What’s the sign-up process for New Zealand Apprenticeships going to look like?

The sign-up process for New Zealand Apprenticeships will be the same as it is currently, and the training agreement will still state that fees may be charged. However, the fees will be paid by the Tertiary Education Commission and not by the trainee or the employer (for up to the first 20 months of an apprenticeship).

I am already training under the Government’s existing ‘Fees Free’ scheme? Can I use this new Free Trades Training instead?

Yes. The Tertiary Education Commission will automatically pay for your training under the new Free Trades Training instead. That means your remaining ‘Fees Free’ entitlement is paused and can be used later.

If you are currently on the existing Fees Free scheme, and are not training in a programme eligible for the new Free Trades Training, you will continue on Fees Free until your eligibility expires.

Is the new funding eligibility criteria the same as for ‘Fees Free’?

No. The eligibility for Free Trades Training is wider than for Fees Free. It is available even if you have already trained in tertiary levels 3-7 previously.

Next steps

Please do consider the opportunity of Free Trades Training and get in touch with the team at Primary ITO.

Call us on 0800 20 80 20 or email


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