National is committed to helping boost labour productivity, drive sustained economic growth, and deliver higher wages and living standards for New Zealanders. That’s why this week the Government launched a suite of initiatives focused on skills.

As a part of the Government’s plan to build a more productive and competitive economy, we’ve committed to delivering 62 separate actions under our Business Growth Agenda. This is the most comprehensive programme of its kind to lift skills, achievement, and productivity.

These are confirmed in the Building Skilled and Safe Workplaces Progress Report – the third of six covering each part of the Government’s Business Growth Agenda.

We’ve also introduced a starting-out wage to help more young New Zealanders get a foot hold on the employment ladder.

The global recession significantly affected job opportunities for young people. The starting-out wage is designed to incentivise employers to take a chance on a young person, enabling them to earn money, gain skills, and get the work experience they need.

As a father I understand the importance of ensuring that our young people are better informed about what skills are needed in our economy, and what to train for. That’s why a new initiative announced this week as part of the Skilled and Safe Workplaces progress report is a really important tool for schools, parents and communities.

This report, the annual Occupational Outlook, will clearly set out information collected from industries and businesses on the expected demand for key occupations in the years ahead.

In the past there has been a shortage of good occupation-level information for students, parents and tertiary providers about where the skill gaps - The Occupational Outlook will help address this issue.

Employers have been telling us for some time that there is a supply glut in some occupations, and a real shortage in areas like Engineering and ICT. We have addressed the availability of study places with our Budget 2012 which increased investment in Engineering courses. The next step is to help increase student interest in taking the right subjects so they can take up these opportunities.

It is these sorts of initiatives that our Indian community have been talking to me about, and it’s great to be able to use these examples to demonstrate that the Government is listening.

By working together, National is delivering on its ambition to create a brighter future for all New Zealanders.