Greytown Trust Lands Trust (GTLT) trustees have awarded their first employer apprenticeship grant to Edridge Construction under a new innovative funding scheme.

The six locally-elected trustees recently reviewed the funding of education grants, which resulted in the implementation of an additional new scheme focused on reducing the cost barrier to local businesses in awarding apprenticeships.

GTLT General Manager, Kevin Murphy (centre in photo), said the scheme acknowledges the local shortage of skilled tradespeople. “Wairarapa mirrors what is happening nationally,” he explained. “Many local employers who would consider taking on apprentices are deterred from doing so by the costs involved.

“Trustees are aware that these costs are not only a barrier to growing the local economy, but they also result in a lost opportunity for talented individuals to get started in lifelong employment or to retrain in a new career. In response, our trustees decided to try to address the situation with an innovative new approach.”

GTLT already provides financial assistance to individuals who are employed as apprentices and enrolled in relevant accredited courses. It has now introduced an apprenticeship funding scheme targeted specifically at Greytown employers, with the objective of relieving them of some of the financial burden of taking on an apprentice.

Under the scheme, the trust commits to financially supporting a Greytown employer to the tune of $1,000 a year, for up to three years, while they train up an apprentice.  The only proviso is that the apprentice is a resident of the Greytown district.

The trust has committed funding for the next three years to cover the employment of five apprentices. “We’re keen to gauge initially whether employers will buy into this idea. If demand on the scheme warrants it, trustees may well re-evaluate the level of funding made available in future,” added Murphy.

Sam Edridge (right in photo), owner of Greytown-based Edridge Construction, said: “It’s definitely been an encouragement to pick up an apprentice, knowing there is a bit of financial support certainly makes things a bit easier and lot more viable.”

Ryan Garrity (left in photo) is working through a three-year apprenticeship with Eldridge Construction, which requires on-site training through BCITO. A former deckhand on a cray fishing boat, Garrity wanted to spend more time at home with his family and is now retraining to be a builder. The grant has been put towards paying his training fees and purchasing essential equipment.