Week That Was: Building more houses and rebuilding our education system

From helping more families into homes to transforming our trades education, it's been a busy week for our Government. Here's what we've been working on this week.



We're getting people trained up with the skills employers need

Everyone deserves to have the opportunity to develop their skills in the workforce and earn a good living.

However, while there are great, well-paid jobs available for people with the right skills, we just aren’t meeting the skills needs at the moment. The regions are increasingly struggling to find enough skilled people, and too many Māori, Pacific and disabled learners are being left behind to achieve at a lower level because the system just won’t respond to their needs.

We want to see more workplace learning, more apprentices and more opportunities for people to earn while they learn. That's why, this week, we announced a new vocational education system to increase the number of people in trades training and to plug the nationwide skills gap.

The changes we are making will give industry greater control over all aspects of vocational education and training, which will make the system more responsive to employers’ needs and to the changing world of work. Industry and employers will identify skills needs, set standards and approve qualifications and credentials, and influence funding decisions.

The changes will also ensure we do better for learners who haven’t been well-served by the present system. You can find out more about the changes here or watch Education Minister Chris Hipkins discuss the new system in more detail below.


We're making sure our water is clean and safe to drink

We should be able to turn on our tap and drink the water without fear of getting ill.

This week the Government made a crucial step in make New Zealand’s drinking water clean and safe - because access to safe, clean drinking water is our birth right.

We have announced that we will have a dedicated watchdog and new water regulations to prevent another campylobacter outbreak like the one that struck Havelock North in 2016.

The reforms announced this week will see the appointment of a dedicated water regulator, who will have the final say on safe drinking water. The new regulator will have a range of responsibilities which will include sector leadership, compliance monitoring and enforcement.

We'll also be introducing a new Water Services Bill, extending regulatory coverage to all water suppliers except for individual households, and strengthening Government stewardship of wastewater and stormwater services.


We're building more state houses

More than 2000 families have a place to call home thanks to the extra public houses delivered by the Government this year.

One of our first actions in Government was to stop the sell-off of state houses. We're proud to have done that, and to have boosted the public housing stock to support thousands of New Zealanders. On average, Housing New Zealand is building four new houses a day, and we've delivered more than 2,100 public houses this year - the biggest increase in the number of public houses in about 20 years!

As our building programme continues to pick up speed and deliver homes across our communities, more New Zealanders have a place to call home that is warm, and where they feel safe and secure.



We're working with industry towards our climate change goals

We're continuing to work with industry to take action on climate change.

This week we brought in a third set of fixes to the Emissions Trading Scheme, which will give certainty, flexibility and incentives to participants.

We've included a number of sensible improvements, such as allowing foresters using averaging accounting, to move their plantations to more suitable parts of their property and recover from storm or fire damage, without being financially penalised.

We're also phasing down free allocation to major industrial emitters that have been part of the scheme for some time, which will help the ETS do what it’s supposed to do: drive emissions down across all sectors of the economy to help ensure a stable climate for future generations.

The previous Government had indicated plans to do make these changes from 2013 but put them on hold, leaving the industry waiting and unable to make important investment decisions.

With these ETS fixes, we're continuing to work towards our climate change goals in a gradual, steady way – with time for business and communities to adjust.


We're making sure all our children can get a great education

One in five New Zealand children has a disability or additional learning needs. It's been too hard, for too long, for them to get support.

We’ve listened to the parents, teachers and students who’ve asked for more support, and are making sure our children get more quality classroom time (and ensuring our teachers have more time to teach) by putting an extra 600 Learning Support Coordinators in schools. This week, we announced where the first Learning Support Coordinators would be based, beginning in January next year.

It's part of our work to rebuild our education system so that it is fair and meets the needs of all students, including the one in five who need extra support.