Trades Training gets Māori out of poverty, into business

By Bronson Perich

The Government's trades and apprenticeship training package aims to get rangatahi into work.

Budget 2020 gave a $1.6 billion boost to trade training.

He Poutama Rangatahi was piloted in the provinces to get at-risk taiohi Māori into employment.

The new budget allocation means that He Poutama Rangatahi will be extended to operate in urban centres.

Stuart Lawrence, chair of Māori Pasifika Trades Training explains the impact of getting Māori into the trades.

“For the first time in their family, they’ve got someone who now the rest of the family can follow through that trade," Lawrence says.

In three-four years, Lawrence adds, people can come out of trades training qualified and registered.

These first-generation tradespeople in some cases, work with their whānau to be self-employed and future employers of their whanaunga.

"The beautiful success I've seen within the family is that they have a long-term plan, they can become their own business owner.

"They only need their van and their tool kit to go about it," Lawrence says.

Working in the trades, Lawrence says, is by no means a 'young man's game'. Young, not so young, men and women, all have a place in the trades.

“This opens up a lot of opportunities to all ages. Not just our young … everybody has the opportunity to take up a trade. At whatever age. We have the young and the more mature all working together around that space.

“We have a high percentage of women, participating in trades as well. They bring a really good part to the game as well," Lawrence says.

Māori Pasifika Trades Training initially focused on helping 19 - 39-year-olds into the trades.

After working with 400 employers, and putting 3,500 students into training, they've seen the need to expand their scope.

They since began to help those 40 years and older to get into trades as well.

Lawrence says that 86% of their students have, upon completion of their training, gone into continued employment.

“There needs to be another caveat around that. How do we get them into the trades and into sustainable employment?

“More importantly is multi-skilling and being able to move when the tide goes out.”

The new training funding will enable facilitators like Māori Pasifika Trades Training to get more people into the trades industry.