New training centre to upskill workers

A new trades training centre to upskill the local workforce will be built in the South Waikato town of Tokoroa through funding from the Government’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund, Education Minister Chris Hipkins and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones have announced.

The Government will contribute $10.84 million from the $3 billion set aside in the CRRF for infrastructure projects. The balance of funding for the $13.9m project will come from the South Waikato Investment Fund Trust.

Chris Hipkins said the modern and fit for purpose centre will help the region deal with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“South Waikato has higher than average levels of social, education and health deprivation and a disproportionately high number of people not in education, employment or training.

“But employment opportunities exist through the trades and industries such as forestry.

“These employers are calling for more skilled workers and the facilities to train them. This new training centre will not only provide employers with the skilled workers they need, but it will give students a modern learning environment and the opportunity to upskill.

“This investment is part of our wider plan to keep New Zealanders working, training and help people find work, particularly in areas where there are skills shortages, including boosting funding to make training in targeted areas and apprenticeships free,” Chris Hipkins said.

Shane Jones said the provision of funding through the CRRF demonstrated the Government’s backing of the regions – to boost their economies and create jobs.

“Māori make up nearly a quarter of the South Waikato population and more than a third of Tokoroa’s.

“The new training centre’s tutors, programme design, support services and pastoral care will be have a focus on working with Māori and Pasifika,” Shane Jones said.

“South Waikato has been categorised as a ‘mini surge region’ by the Provincial Development Unit to provide extra support to get people into work. This new training centre will make a significant contribution towards this goal.”

Construction of the centre is ready to go. It is expected to take about 15 months to complete and employ more than 200 people during the build. Up to 40 fulltime roles are expected once the centre opens.

Once the new training centre starts accepting students, it is expected to train and place around 740 students each year into skilled roles.

Note to editors:

All approvals are in principle and subject to contract negotiations. Investment values are also subject to change.

The funding announced today is part of the $3 billion infrastructure package in the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund, announced by Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Shane Jones on July 1. The fund is expected to deliver more than 20,000 jobs across New Zealand and unlock investment with a project value of more than $5 billion.