The Rehabilitation Board's main trade training activities developed out of the scheme for trade training centres, which had been started in 1940 to train workers to replace men entering the armed forces. The Board took over the centres in February 1944, and the scheme was then restricted to ex-servicemen.1
Under this scheme, the Rehabilitation Board concerned itself mainly with training for the building trades. At the peak of training activity there were carpentry training centres in twenty-one towns, painting centres in ten, bricklaying and plastering in four, and joinery in one. A roof-tiling course was conducted at Wellington from February to November 1945. In most cases the training period ranged from eighteen months to two years.
During their period of advanced practical training, building trade trainees were engaged on the construction of houses under the Government's housing scheme. In 1946 the Rehabilitation Board reported:2
‘Since the modest beginning in 1942, the output of State houses built by trainees (during the course of their training) has steadily increased to the extent that the Department is now one of the biggest contractors for State housing in the Dominion. The number of completed units has increased from 19 in 1942 to 285 in 1945 and it is estimated that by 1947 some 1,400 houses will be built by trainees during that year.’
Provision was also made for the training of ex-servicemen in general engineering, welding, and the footwear manufacturing industry.
The last of the full-time Trade Training Centres closed in 1953, and at that stage 7300 men had received full-time training.
A supplementary scheme3 provided for contracts between employers, trainees, and the Board for engagement and training over suitable periods. Wages were subsidised by the Board at a gradually decreasing amount as the training progressed and the trainee's skill and production value increased. By 1953, 4200 men had been trained under this scheme.
The Board also assisted with the training of disabled ex-servicemen, the Disabled Servicemen's Re-Establishment League and the Blind Servicemen's Trust Board acting as its agents in appropriate cases.
1 The Class A Scheme.
2 Parliamentary Paper H–18, p. 10.
3 B Class training.