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Skill New Zealand training programmes, 1993-2000

Skill New Zealand purchases a range of fully-subsidised training programmes targeted at people under-represented in the labour market, including recent school leavers and unemployed people with no or low school qualifications. Over 2,500 training programmes are offered by more than 500 providers nationwide. These programmes provide eligible learners with the opportunity to gain nationally-recognised qualifications and skills, as well as work experience, which will assist them in progressing into further training or employment. The three programmes are:

  • Training Opportunities - targeted at clients of the Department of Work and Income aged 18 years or older, with a significant history of unemployment and low qualifications.
  • Youth Training - aimed at school leavers under 18 years of age with low qualifications.
  • Skill Enhancement - offers vocational training to young Mäori and Pacific peoples.

Training Opportunities and Youth Training learners may continue training until they have accumulated 240 credits on the National Qualifications Framework.

Since 1993, over 220,000 young people aged 16 to 24 years have enrolled in Skill New Zealand programmes. Of these, 75 percent were in the 16 to 19 age group. The vast majority (between 93 and 97 percent) of these young people had no more than two School Certificate passes. Males slightly outnumbered females, with male trainees consistently forming between 53 and 55 percent of young participants over the period.

The total number of participants aged between 16 and 24 years in Skill New Zealand programmes has fallen between 1993 and 2000. In 1993, the peak year, 32,000 young people commenced training. From 29,000 in 1997, the annual number of trainees subsequently decreased sharply in 1998 and 1999, falling to 21,000 by the year 2000. The decline since 1997 can be attributed to several factors including, changes to benefit access for young people, a 13 percent reduction in government funding in 1999, longer training programmes and increased training costs.

Figure 5

Graph, Skill New Zealand Training Programmes, Participants Aged 16-24.

Over the same period, young people benefited from an improvement in the labour market. The unemployment rate in the 1990s for young people aged 15 to 19 years peaked at 24 percent in 1993, before falling and fluctuating between 17 and 20 percent in 1999 and 2000. Similarly, the unemployment rate for young people aged 20 to 24 years decreased from a high of 19 percent in 1993 to approximately 12 percent during 2000.

The proportion of Māori enrolling in training programmes has increased annually since 1993, with Māori forming the largest ethnic group since 1994. In 1993, 43 percent of all participants were Māori, and this had increased to 48 percent by 2000. Participation by Pacific people remained around 12 percent throughout the period. The proportion of learners from other ethnic groups declined proportionally from 45 percent in 1993 to 40 percent in 2000.

Figure 6

Graph, Skill New Zealand Training Programmes, Participants Aged 16-24, by Ethnicity.  

Since 1993, the number of 16-year-old learners enrolled in Skill New Zealand programmes has fluctuated. In 1993, 6,700 16-year-old school leavers with no qualifications participated in Training Opportunities. By 1995, this had risen to 7,600, remaining at a similar level until 1998 when there were 4,900 16 year olds participating in training. At the beginning of 1999, Training Opportunities split into two new programmes: Youth Training and Training Opportunities. Since Youth Training began in 1999, around 5,500 have participated in the programme each year. Not all of these learners would have entered the programme for the first time while aged 16. An increasing number of learners leave school earlier and may have been involved in training before turning 16.

Figure 7

Graph, Skill New Zealand Training Programmes, Participants Aged 16 Years.

As the number of students leaving school with no qualifications was generally between 9,000 and 10,000 between 1993 and 2000, Skill New Zealand training programmes would appear to have involved a reasonable proportion of school leavers without qualifications. The fully subsidised nature of the programmes and the fact that school leavers are not eligible for an unemployment benefit until they reach 18 years, further enhance their attraction.

Skill New Zealand measures the outcomes of all learners who leave their programmes. Learners continuing their training within the same programme, such as Youth Training, are excluded from the recorded results. Information concerning the nature or permanence of subsequent employment is not collected. In recent years, Skill New Zealand has recorded an increase in the proportion of learners aged 16 to 24 years who have progressed into further training or employment two months after leaving training. Of learners in this age group who left Training Opportunities in 1993, 35 percent found employment, either full-time or part-time, and an additional 8 percent embarked on further training. Of learners who left Training Opportunities in 2000, 51 percent gained employment and 11 percent progressed to further training outside the programme. In the same year, 43 percent of young people leaving Youth Training found employment, while another 22 percent went on to train with institutions such as polytechnics, universities and private training establishments.

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