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To: The Government

Grow the workforce: paid training in healthcare, education, and social work professions

We call on the government to address long-term workforce shortages by funding people to train in registered professions. This includes nurses, doctors, midwives, teachers, social workers, mental health professionals, allied health & more. Trainees required to undertake compulsory placements as part of their studies should be paid a stipend to cover their living costs so they can focus on completing their studies, placements, & registration requirements. Sustainable workforce development, through paid training, will help to attract & retain people into these highly skilled, highly qualified, and much needed professions.

Imagine an Aotearoa where you & your loved ones have readily available access to quality healthcare, mental health services, social support, & education. Diverse public services that reflect our communities’ needs; well-resourced professionals and choice for whānau in the support they receive.

This dream relies on the Government prioritizing & funding workforce development so more people can enter these essential professions.

Why is this important?

We are short 700 social workers, 940 psychologists, 1000 teachers, 1,050 midwives, 1,700 doctors, & 4,800 nurses to name a few. Our hospitals, GP practices, schools, mental health & social services are more stretched than ever. Dangerously low staffing levels & overworked professionals make for burnt-out workforces & inaccessible services.

This means long waitlists for surgeries or specialist appointments & long wait times in ED. Delayed access to mental health assessments, treatment, crisis support, & suicide prevention. Family harm & child protection services stretched beyond capacity. Large class sizes in schools mean reduced capacity for individual learning needs to be met & homeschooling for parents when teachers are off sick. The ripple effect of workforce shortages is massive.

More staff are needed but it’s nearly impossible to complete course requirements with the current cost of living. Students are burning out & dropping out of study at rates of up to 45%. They can’t afford to work for free when rent, food, & power still cost money.

- Students training in professions with placement requirements complete between 500 & 2400 hours of unpaid training depending on registration requirements. Medical students complete 20-42 weeks of unpaid placements for 3 years (after a 3yr BSc Health Science).
- Students are often required to live or work away from home to complete placements. The cost of double rent & the impact on part-time work opportunities are significant. For students with on-call requirements, maintaining paid work is almost impossible.
- Students must cover course related costs such as textbooks, uniforms, immunisations, equipment, travel, parking, supervision, & childcare arrangements. $1000 course costs loans are insufficient to cover these expenses.
- Students participate in paid work to pay their bills on top of unpaid placements, often working up to 80 hours a week to make ends meet.
Students from backgrounds of hardship or those caring for tamariki/whānau get excluded from these professions as they have limited financial flexibility or capacity to take on high student loans, unpaid labour & course related costs.
- Student hardship disproportionately affects Māori & Pasifika because of existing inequities in Aotearoa New Zealand. We need greater diversity & experience to better serve the needs of our communities but without financial support to study our professions are at risk of becoming more short-staffed & less diverse.

Post-graduate students
Support must also be available for post-graduate students undertaking placements as part of their registration requirements. Currently, postgraduate students are ineligible for student allowance.
- Many degrees are completed at a post-graduate level via an applied/professional masters.
- Registered psychology professions & psychotherapy are only available at postgraduate level.
- Lifetime student allowance limits are significantly lower for those over 40 years of age.
- Mature students’ only option is to take on huge student loans & living costs. Working for free while collecting debt is especially prohibitive for students with additional domestic, family, and financial responsibilities.

We must incentivise New Zealanders to gain qualifications in registered professions. Tradies receive support through packages like the Apprenticeship Boost and Police are paid to train while provided bed and board. Paid training for our health, education, and social work professionals must become the norm too.

The solution!

Provide students with a universal, non-repayable, annually increasing stipend.
We are calling on the government to pay students a universal stipend while they train in registered professions with compulsory placement requirements. This is non-repayable & should increase annually to reflect the year-on-year increase in placement hours, skill development, & responsibilities. First year undergraduate programs with placement requirements must start on at least equivalent to the training wage for Aotearoa New Zealand. Postgraduate students should start on at least equivalent to the living wage to reflect their existing qualifications & professional experience.

What is a stipend?
A stipend is not a wage. It is a tax-free fund to support students to cover living costs, enabling them to fully engage with their studies & placement requirements. A stipend does not make students employees. It will not affect training, practice, or supervision requirements.

Year 1: Training wage (tax-free stipend) $32,084.64*
Year 2: Minimum wage (tax-free stipend) $39,312.72*
Year 3+: Living wage (tax-free stipend) $44,008.58*

*Take home amount students would receive at the current rates. These should be reviewed & adjusted annually in line with equivalent wage rates. Additional allowances should be available for on-call requirements, mandatory therapy, & supervision costs.

Please sign & share this petition for paid training in healthcare, education, & social work. Funded workforce development will improve accessibility to training, increase the diversity of staff, & enable better access to quality services for whānau & community.

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2024-05-07 11:54:52 +1200

10,000 signatures reached

2024-02-02 16:36:18 +1300

5,000 signatures reached

2024-01-16 14:49:01 +1300

1,000 signatures reached

2024-01-15 21:51:42 +1300

500 signatures reached

2024-01-15 18:29:36 +1300

100 signatures reached

2024-01-15 17:24:27 +1300

50 signatures reached

2024-01-15 16:49:41 +1300

25 signatures reached

2024-01-15 16:30:47 +1300

10 signatures reached