Financial help for trainees and workplaces

Skills Active trainees and workplaces may be able to access financial assistance to support their industry training. Read on for more information and eligibility requirements - these vary depending on the scheme.

Our industries are central to the spirit and culture of New Zealand and its people. Sport, recreation and performing arts keep us happy and healthy. 

As New Zealand navigates the Covid-19 recovery period, a range of support options are available to Skills Active trainees and workplaces, to help keep learning going in these vital industries.

Check out our fees list right here. And click the headings below for more information on the various support schemes available to workplaces and trainees.

Skills Active hardship fund

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From 15 March 2021, The Skills Active hardship fund is available for eligible workplaces and trainees that have been severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The fund may be used to support enrolment, training and assessment costs. The support provided will be determined on a case-by-case basis. 

Employers and organisations accessing the fund must be able to demonstrate a meaningful commitment to retaining and developing staff through industry training. 


the workplace employs a staff member who is eligible to enrol in the qualification

the workplace has experienced severe hardship as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic

the workplace has demonstrated a commitment to the retention and development of staff.

To apply, please prepare a cover letter outlining:

the trainee (that may be you, or a staff member) 

the qualification in which they wish to enrol

the employer/host organisation

an explanation of how the employer has been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic (e.g. impact on customer numbers, revenue, staffing, etc.)

an explanation of how the employer will fulfil their commitment to support, train and develop staff (e.g. information on the hours allotted each week for training purposes)

Please send your cover letter to your learning support advisor.

Targeted Training and Apprenticeships Fund

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Skills Active apprenticeships are designed for committed industry professionals. There is no cost to sign up for any of our apprenticeship programmes - enrolment and assessment fees are zero, until the end of 2022.

All apprenticeships are now being funded through the government’s Targeted Training Fund, which is designed to help employers and apprentices during the Covid recovery period.

There’s no special application process – fees have simply been waived. Check out our apprenticeships in aquatics, exercise, recreation and performing arts, and talk to a learning support advisor to see if it’s the right option for you!

Please note that this funding programme replaces the Fees-Free scheme, which previously covered Skills Active apprenticeships for eligible learners.
If you are currently eligible for Fees-Free, enrolling in an apprenticeship under the Targeted Training Fund won't prevent you from using Fees-Free in future.

Apprenticeship Boost

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The Apprenticeship Boost scheme provides a wage subsidy to employers who retain their apprentices, or take on new ones.

This scheme runs for 20 months from August 2020. All Skills Active apprenticeships are eligible for this funding.

The amount of the wage subsidy paid to the employer will vary depending on how far the apprentice has progressed through their training. Employers can receive up to $1,000 per month for an apprentice in their first year, and $500 per month for an apprentice in their second year.

All the details including criteria and how to apply are on the Work and Income website

Regional Apprenticeships Initiative

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The Regional Apprenticeships Initiative is designed to support new apprentices doing their training outside the main centres.

This fund will support up to 1,000 new apprentices and their employers in regional New Zealand - that is, outside of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

The fund will initially be targeted at Māori and Pasifika apprentices, and those apprentices who lost their previous employment due to Covid-19. After that, it will be open to all regional apprentices.

The fund provides up to $40,000 per apprentice, which includes a wage subsidy and help with business support and pastoral care, to create the right environment for a successful apprenticeship.

One condition of the scheme is that the employer must top up the funding they receive, to ensure the apprentice is paid at least the relevant minimum wage or training wage.

For more details, check out the Provincial Growth Fund website.

Mana in Mahi

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The Mana in Mahi programme is designed to help people who have been disadvantaged in the labour market to move into new jobs.

It's available across all industries, so that businesses can grow while providing opportunities for young people to gain experience and earn qualifications.

If you are interested in Mana in Mahi, it's really important to speak directly with the team at Work and Income New Zealand to understand if it's right for you.

Below, we've provided some basic information to get you started.

For our workplaces:

Mana in Mahi may be open to you if you are offering a full-time role (30 hours +) to anyone who has been disadvantaged in the job market. 

You must be paying at least the adult minimum wage, and you need to commit to supporting your new staff member to complete a Skills Active industry training programme.

Mana in Mahi will provide a wage subsidy of up to $16,000 in the trainee's first year, and $8,000 in the second year. It will provide help with start-up tools and gear, pre-work training, and pastoral care along the way. Your trainee will also receive three incentive payments in their first year, to help motivate them to meet their work and training goals.

For more detailed information for employers, visit the Work and Income website, or contact to apply.

For our trainees:

To take part in Mana in Mahi, you must be someone who has previously been disadvantaged in the labour market.

You need to be working at least 30 hours a week with your new employer, and you must commit to pursuing a Skills Active on-job qualification that matches your role.

Mana in Mahi will subsidise the wage paid to you by your employer, and provide regular support and visits to help you along. If you stick at it, you will also receive three $1,000 incentive payments, over the course of your first year in the job.

The Work and Income website has more information for jobseekers and trainees.

The training wage

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If you are an employer taking on a new staff memberyou may be able to pay them the training wage if they are completing at least 60 credits a year in a Skills Active industry training programme.

The training wage is 80% of the adult minimum wage. It can only be paid to people who are aged 20 or over, and it cannot be paid to any employee who is responsible for supervising other staff.

If you think your business could be eligible to offer the training wage, your next step should be to speak directly with the team at Employment New Zealand to understand your rights and responsibilities.

In order to be eligible, you and your employee must have their industry training commitment written into their employment contract. The training must be required for them to become qualified in their role.

Your employee is only eligible for the training wage while they are completing 60 credits a year. If they finish their qualification, or they are no longer doing 60 credits in a year, you must pay them at least the adult minimum wage. You should reassess eligibility each year.

Click here for more detailed information from the Employment NZ website.

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For people seeking career and education support in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the government has gathered information and links on one site,

Some of the resources that may be relevant to Skills Active workplaces and trainees are listed below. Click the links for more information:

Help for people who have lost their jobs

Help for those who are still employed, but having difficulties 

Advice on self-employment

Help with apprenticeships.