Apprentice training 'major election topic'

Last updated 12:00 20/12/2012

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A survey of the business community has revealed a strong desire for the government to invest in apprenticeships to address a worker skill shortage.

Ninety eight per cent of those surveyed wanted more active promotion of apprenticeships and youth training initiatives, according to the IBR survey from accounting consultancy Grant Thornton New Zealand.

The survey of chief executives, managing directors and chairmen in over 3000 businesses globally reflects a sample of 50 New Zealand companies each quarter.

Grant Thornton New Zealand partner Pam Newlove went as far as to say the focus on apprenticeship training "could easily become a major election topic" in two years.

Survey respondents also showed 66 per cent support for an increase in research and development subsidies.

The Resource Management Act was also a focus with 82 per cent asking for further changes to be made to the law and the building consent process to reduce compliance costs.

Newlove said she took heart from the surprising result that only 2 per cent of those surveyed wanted the government to pursue a policy of printing money to ease the rise of the New Zealand dollar.

And only 38 per cent of respondents wanted the government to pressure the Reserve Bank to lower the Official Cash Rate.

"We had expected both to be higher," Newlove said.

"Instead, we are heartened that the survey reflected much more practical and long-term solutions to lift the New Zealand economy.

"Interventionist policies can work in the short term, but they are not a long-term panacea.

"We only have to look back to the Muldoon era of the 1980s and some of the short-term measures that were introduced then to understand the long-term impact they had on the New Zealand economy."

Reducing the government's deficit was also a priority for 94 per cent in the survey sample while 84 per cent supported a 'Buy New Zealand' campaign and around half of the businesses interviewed suggested increasing immigration, lowering income tax, providing tax breaks for exporters and subsidising childcare.

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