Wāhine who get qualified in trades are not only building themselves a future; they’re also helping to bridge the pay gap for all women, Māori and Pasifika. They’re paving the way for their sisters – and brothers – to unlock higher-paying careers with mana and dignity.

It’s disappointing that a pay gap persists. Fair-minded organisations are sick of the lack of progress and recently sent an open letter to the government requesting more action.

The Pacific Pay Gap Inquiry Report compared earnings for pakeha men with those of others. It found that for every dollar a Pākehā man made in 2021:

  • Pākehā women earned 89 cents
  • Māori men earned 86 cents
  • Māori women earned 81 cents
  • Pasifika men earned 81 cents
  • Pasifika women earned just 75 cents.

Sam Sefuiva, MPTT Mana Whakahare/Project Manager

This gap means people are not only missing out on crucial wages, but opportunities to fulfil their potential and make meaningful choices about their lives.

The report also looked for the reasons. Racism, unconscious bias and discrimination are holding back women and Māori and Pasifika workers from realising their full potential.

Sam Sefuiva, MPTT Project Manager, says that MPTT Auckland is helping Māori and Pasifika succeed in the trades while creating social change.

The solution: Trades training for higher-paying careers

“We’re here to give Māori and Pasifika trainees practical support to build their careers. We offer free fees, a tools kete including life and work readiness skills, and help to find work.”

Women can take a hammer to the industry’s glass ceiling by learning trade skills. It’s a pathway to earn while you learn, do hands-on work that keeps you fit and have skills that are in demand by employers. Sam says,

“By closing this pay gap, we can ensure everyone in our communities has the opportunity to thrive, and those families on the lowest wages can break from the constraints of poverty.”

Qualified tradespeople can enjoy secure, well-paid work. With the shortage of qualified tradespeople in Aotearoa, there’ll be even more jobs to choose from in future.

Trades projects are usually a team effort, so your skills could lead to a variety of roles. Many tradespeople also become managers or start their own kaipakihi (business).

It’s crucial to become qualified

Qualification can help you break through barriers to better pay.

The Pay Gap report showed many people were paid little more than minimum wage despite years of getting skills in the same job. It also showed the pay limits of staying a contractor, casual worker, or seasonal worker without security.

MPTT supports our trainees into apprenticeships because it’s game-changing. As an apprentice, you’ll be paid to work towards your qualification. That means you’ll do practical assessments at work, which your boss will sign off on to say you’ve successfully learned those skills. You’ll also do some off-job training to learn more about the theory behind your trade.

Once you’ve finished your apprenticeship, you’ll be fully qualified in your trade.

Toni, an apprentice and young mum is an outstanding example. Eddie Green, who oversees Toni’s work at Pacific Steel, says she will be “fighting off job offers” once she’s certified.

We’ve got your back while you close the gap

MPTT Navigators guide trainees through their training and beyond, helping them to find their voice and place at work. They encourage them to aim high and continually develop their skills.

Makahn Warren-Chapman, MPTT Navigator

MPTT Navigator Makahn says she and her team consider the whole journey so they can give the right support at the right time.

Navigators support ākonga to identify anything that might stand in the way of their progress so they can help them make a plan to get past any obstacles. This includes things such as getting a driver’s licence and arranging childcare.

“One of the things we have identified is that people might not know how to write an effective CV, so we’ve developed a workshop that can assist with this. We also offer workshops about how to manage job interviews,” says Navigator Makahn Warren-Chapman.

MPTT also partners with training and industry organisations that value their Māori and Pasifika workers and advocate for them.

The open letter on Pay Gaps says, Supporting employers to do the right thing and to be transparent about their pay gap is a good first step.

Be part of the change

Since we started in 2015, MPTT has helped more than 4,195 trainees learn a trade, and 42% (as of the end of 2022) of our graduates are now in apprenticeships, trades-related employment or further study.

Working together, we can build a future where everyone, whatever their ethnicity or gender, is paid fairly for their work and treated with respect and dignity.

Not only is this the right thing to do, but it will ensure Aotearoa New Zealand is honouring te Tiriti o Waitangi and meeting its human rights obligations. It will also bring us in line with other progressive countries already moving towards closing their pay gaps.

If you’d like to learn more about how an MPTT scholarship can unlock your future, we’d love to hear from you. And similarly, if you’re an employer who cares about building a fairer Aotearoa for your team and community, get in touch.