What assistance is the Government providing Christchurch to ensure the right skilled labour is available to help the city rebuild?
The Prime Minister is at this moment announcing a comprehensive skills package for Christchurch of $42 million to help the city rebuild. As part of this we are increasing workforce skills with up to 3,000 more construction-related training places in polytechs using existing funding. We are also providing an extra $42 million for 1,500 additional funded places at polytechs, private providers, and industry training organisations as required, and we are providing accelerated training programmes, as well.
What additional help is being provided from the Ministry of Social Development and Work and Income?
This has been a real cross-agency focus, which has been really important. So to assist trainees into work the Ministry of Social Development is providing additional skills brokers at industry training organisations to work with employers to place those who are actually in training. The Ministry of Social Development will also receive an extra $5 million in Budget 2011 to purchase further industry partnership placements to help those unemployed young people and older people take up job opportunities from the rebuild. In addition, we are already spending $1.5 million helping those people in Christchurch into jobs as we speak.
Would the skills training assistance package be necessary if during the last 2½ years this Government had not cut industry training numbers by over 4,500 in the Canterbury region alone?
What this Government has done over the last 2½ years is move some of that money into universities, where people wanted to be. The member knows that. There were people who wanted to study at university; there were others who were studying in other areas. We have put the money where the demand was and where it was truly needed.
I seek leave to table two documents showing the cut in industry trainees of over 4,500. They are the Tertiary Education Commission industry training quarterly performance indicators December 2008 and September 2010.
Leave is sought to table those documents. Is there any objection? There is no objection.
What role have Māori played in working to create employment opportunities in Christchurch, and what benefits will be directly available for young Māori seeking employment?
There has been a lot of consultation, particularly with Ngāi Tahu, and certainly Mark Solomon has been quite involved in that work. I might add that the member herself has been pretty pushy in making sure that we acknowledge young Māori people and employment opportunities there. Te Puni Kōkiri will support at least 200 Māori in the Canterbury area to enter training and, subsequently, employment in the construction sector through the appointment of an agent to work with industry training organisations, education providers, and employers, and, of course, with Māori themselves.
Does this assistance to provide skilled labour extend to heating installers, given that as far back as last year the Government committed to having 4,500 emergency heating units installed in quake-damaged homes by winter, that as of this week MPs were advised that only 1,800 had been installed, and that, as a result of this, thousands of Cantabrians are going to be battling through the winter, living in cold, damp, and broken homes?