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Earthquakes, Canterbury—Trade Skills Training Policy

Thursday 29 September 2011 Hansard source (external site)

Shearer6. DAVID SHEARER (Labour—Mt Albert) Link to this
to the Minister for Tertiary Education

Does he stand by his statement migrant workers will only be used in Christchurch to fill jobs where New Zealanders “won’t be able to be trained in time to do the job” such as engineers that take four to five years’ training?

JoyceHon STEVEN JOYCE (Minister for Tertiary Education) Link to this

Yes, I stand by my full quote, which was as follows: “You will have a need for people who won’t be able to be trained in time to do the job, and that’s why we’ve also got the Department of Labour involved to look at what sort of occupations will not be able to be filled, just because of the time it takes to train them. So if you look at engineers, 4 to 5 years, where realistically we have what’s going through the pipeline right now, so that’s the sort of areas where they might look at some extra migration to help with that particular part of the skills requirement.”

ShearerDavid Shearer Link to this

Given that it takes only 18 months’ training to obtain a basic scaffolding qualification, why is the Government advertising this occupation in its special Christchurch migrant skills list, instead of investing more money into Modern Apprenticeships, in Budget 2011, to help Kiwis into jobs?

JoyceHon STEVEN JOYCE Link to this

In fact, that is an interesting example, because the Ministry of Social Development, I am advised, has just done an exercise with Scaffolding and Rigging New Zealand to subsidise 27 scaffolding trainees into jobs. I understand they are from the Limited Service Volunteers course. So it all moves around, which is the reality of it. We are balancing two things: firstly, ensuring that as much as possible we use the skills of New Zealanders and train New Zealanders—and we are doing that—and, secondly, not delaying the recovery in Christchurch by having particular areas of skills needing to be filled. So that is the balance the Government is looking to strike on all cases.

ShearerDavid Shearer Link to this

I seek leave to table a document from the Immigration New Zealand website, which sets out the—

SmithMr SPEAKER Link to this

We do not table stuff on departmental websites. It is available to all members. Does the member have a supplementary question?

ShearerDavid Shearer Link to this

Given that it takes 2 years’ training to become a qualified electricity line mechanic, and that the Christchurch rebuild is expected to take 15 years, why is the Government advertising this occupation in its special migrant skills list instead of training Kiwis to do that job?

JoyceHon STEVEN JOYCE Link to this

The member implies that it is some sort of mutually exclusive situation where one cannot walk and chew gum at the same time. The reality is that we are training very large numbers of people right now for the Christchurch rebuild and for the wider building and construction requirements in the country. For example, we currently have around 8,400 construction trades - related equivalent full-time students active in New Zealand right now, and we have 15,000-odd trainees in the Built Environment Training Alliance now, too.

ShearerDavid Shearer Link to this

Does he stand by his statement that 1,500 new training places should be more than enough to meet the skills needs in Canterbury, given that the most recent estimate from the Canterbury Employment and Skills Board states that 30,000 extra trades workers will be needed for the rebuild?

JoyceHon STEVEN JOYCE Link to this

I am not sure where the member gets that particular view from. We have added $48 million specifically into a pool for additional trades training, which, if it were applied to equivalent full-time student places, would equate to 1,500 places, but also that could be applied to industry training and to a range of other things as well. On top of that, I inform the member that right now we have equivalent full-time students places available in polytechnics and in universities around the country. We have full-time subsidy places with the Ministry of Social Development in Christchurch for the give a local a job programme available now, we have industry training places available now, and Modern Apprenticeships places available now. So if the member knows of anybody who is interested in stepping up and being part of the rebuild in Christchurch—

Hon Member

A few of them might be stepping out.

JoyceHon STEVEN JOYCE Link to this

My colleague points out that a few members across the aisle might be interested after November, and they would be most welcome to contact their local polytechnic or industry training organisation and ensure they have the opportunity to participate. There are lots of places available.

RobertsonGrant Robertson Link to this

I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. In the Minister’s answer to the second-to-last supplementary question, the Minister appeared to be quoting from an official document. I ask that he table that document, as per the Standing Orders.

SmithMr SPEAKER Link to this

I will check with the Minister. Was the Minister quoting from an official document? That is not a document prepared for him by his officials?

SmithMr SPEAKER Link to this

It is not an official document.

MallardHon Trevor Mallard Link to this

I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I did not want to interrupt the rest of the question, but you ruled, as you have consistently, that members are not allowed to table documents that are from websites. Yesterday we had an assurance from the Minister for Social Development and Employment that she was not, and in fact she did. I wonder whether that matter is going to be taken up.

SmithMr SPEAKER Link to this

The Speaker cannot just take up matters like that, although he notes the point the honourable member is making. He noted it yesterday, and there is not a lot the Speaker can do about that, but it is in the Speaker’s mind and if it happens again, I will be very concerned about it.

MallardHon Trevor Mallard Link to this

I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I know that it is relatively unusual, but when the Speaker receives an assurance from a Minister on a matter of fact that is incorrect, one would have thought that the Speaker would take some action. I know that it would be very hard to refer a breach of privilege to oneself, but it was not a simple question. You asked the Minister, and she gave you an incorrect reply, which has not been corrected.

BennettHon Paula Bennett Link to this

Just in light of the conversation we had yesterday, you asked me whether the document was from a website. Yesterday I said that I believed that it was not. I had it in a hard form in front of me; it did not indicate that it was from a website. It turns out later on that it was on a website, which they found, but the document itself was not.

SmithMr SPEAKER Link to this

We will not debate this issue right here and now. Yesterday I asked whether the particular document was from a departmental website. I noted later that the document had “Department of Labour” across the top of it; it was rather difficult to have not been able to see that the document was from a Government department. The member who raised the original point of order may note that the Standing Orders proposals will provide a mechanism for the Speaker to deal with this kind of issue, because the Speaker is not particularly happy when this kind of issue occurs. It troubles the Speaker that such an issue is not of sufficient moment for it to be considered to be a matter of privilege, but it is an important issue none the less. I think the new proposals will enable matters like that to be dealt with.

BurnsBrendon Burns Link to this

Given that there are 10,000 18 to 24-year-olds out of work in Canterbury, and given that we have a $30 billion rebuild over a generation, why will he not step up and give young Cantabrians real opportunities to train, and rebuild their city, rather than importing migrant labour?

JoyceHon STEVEN JOYCE Link to this

I think the member might have misheard the answer to the previous supplementary question, when I listed a whole range of things that are available now, including subsidised jobs into Christchurch. The big challenge that we are all dealing with in Christchurch is the ongoing seismicity and when that will settle down, and that has an impact on everybody’s desire to step up and do things, but the places are available right now. I think the only thing we could do is sort of march the people into the places at the point of some sort of compulsion, and I do not know whether the member is suggesting that, but I think that would be inappropriate. If he knows of anybody in his own constituency, for example, who would like to take up one of the many, many training opportunities of all types in Christchurch, then I ask him to please tell them to contact their local industry training organisation, or they can contact my office if they like.