Highly trained staff crucial to success

February 3, 2020

"It is more important than ever that New Zealanders can get worthwhile qualifications, learners can be recognised for their skills, and industry can be confident in the quality of the workforce."

Our CEO Fiona Kingsford reflects on the year just been in the manufacturing industry and how highly trained staff are vital to success.

2019 was a year of extremes in the manufacturing industry, impacted by both a skills shortage and a government reform that will reshape vocational education.

New Zealand is facing its biggest skills shortage in decades. By 2024, more than 18,000 people will be needed to fill new roles and replace those leaving the manufacturing sector, many of which could be filled by apprentices.

In August 2019, the Government confirmed the details of its overhaul of vocational education. Specifically, the disestablishment of all 11 Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) whose current functions will be undertaken by two new entities, Workforce Development Councils (WDCs) and the New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology (NZIST).

By the end of 2022, WDCs will lead qualification development, standard setting, skills leadership, brokerage and industry advocacy, while the new national delivery agency, NZIST, will deliver all classroom, digital and on-the-job learning.

The NZIST includes the merger of the 16 Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics and the training functions of the ITOs.

How this new regime will impact the manufacturing industry is unclear. What we do know, is that the government has committed to ongoing support of apprentices and trainees undertaking on-the-job training.

So, there is absolutely no reason for employers to stop signing their employees into training for fear apprentices and trainees won’t be able to complete because of upcoming changes.

All qualifications remain, and everyone entering one will be able to complete them.

While the training delivery landscape is definitely changing, these changes will be progressively implemented by December 2022. Right now, there is no interruption to the services Competenz provides to our employers, trainees and apprentices.

No matter what form the new structure takes and how it is rolled out, the future of work in the manufacturing sector will still require high levels of technical ability and environments to harness the exciting technology advances we have seen and are poised to see.

Highly trained staff are vital to success, and these are our manufacturing apprentices and skilled workforce.

Good news came in October 2019 with the Government’s pledge to invest in a trades campaign targeted to school leavers and highlighting the vast opportunities trades careers can offer.

We are pleased to hear their plans include more of what we have been implementing over the years – speed dating events for employers and school leavers to connect the latter into new jobs, and a campaign to highlight that if ‘you have a trade, you have it made’.

As parents and teachers, we all shoulder the responsibility to ensure that our school leavers are aware of the trades training opportunities that lie in the broader manufacturing sector.

We also need to accept the world of employment is undergoing a massive shift and a high level of technical skill is required in today’s manufacturing factories and plants.

The next generation of workers will be responsible for gleaning insights and intelligence from machines, identifying new capabilities and bring a creative solution-focused attitude to the factory floor.

We look forward to being part of the design of the new model that enables innovation, agility and greater incentives for employers in manufacturing.

It is more important than ever that New Zealanders can get worthwhile qualifications, learners can be recognised for their skills, and industry can be confident in the quality of the workforce.