More industry needed in industry training
20 November 2014
While 140,000 people are gaining skills through industry training every year, New Zealand’s ‘skills gap’ is predicted to
widen. That gap, between supply of and demand for, skilled workers could slow productivity and stall economic growth.
However, industry, or work-based, training has gained momentum over recent years, with industry trainees or apprentices
achieving 54,000 national qualifications annually.
“There is a massive pool of talent amongst the 70% of school leavers who do not attend university, and we’d like to see
even more young people choosing industry training,” says Industry Training Federation (ITF) Chief Executive Mark
Oldershaw. “But to make sure that the training results in jobs, it must be based on the job market.”
The ITF, which represents all 12 of New Zealand’s Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) has released an open letter
asking Government for a more cohesive, efficient industry training sector.
“To keep up with our own growth, and with global and technological challenges, we need to be smarter, quicker and
focused on the needs of industry,” says Mark.
“The first step is to enable industry to guide the development of training and qualifications. Historically it has been
hard to get businesses involved because of barriers such as time, cost and complexity. We need to make it easier.”
The benefits of industry training for New Zealand businesses are becoming more widely recognised by employersacross all
Competenz, a large ITO representing the manufacturing, engineering, forestry and food and beverageindustries, receive
constant feedback from employers who say on-the-job staff training is contributing to their success.
Hydroponics company Bluelab says training has boosted team morale and business success considerably. “Training ensures
the team has the best possible skills to meet the competitive market head on,” says Bluelab Production Manager Mandy
Martin Beever, from Beef Jerky company Jack Links, echoes this sentiment, saying training has contributed to the
increase in exports. “As we grow the business we need to learn to grow in confidence, and with confidence webuild
efficiency, productivity and business success,” says Martin.
But Mark Oldershaw says although industry training success is widespread, industry experience is needed at a broader,
strategic level to ensure training and qualifications remain relevant.
“Our current shortage of builders is a reminder of the need to be better prepared,” says Mark. “If we work closer with
industry and move more quickly, we can avoid these shortages.”
Auckland’s ‘workforce roadmap’, aims to do just that. An alliance of tertiary education providers in the wider Auckland
area (including four ITOs, the Manukau Institute of Technology andUnitec), have been working with major construction and
infrastructure industry players to get ahead of the game.
“The tertiary education sector has not been as well connected to industry as it should be,” says Development Manager for
the Alliance Graham Hodge. “We need to ensure the qualifications are better aligned to future workforce needs and to do
this we must listen closely and carefully to industry.”
Fletcher; Hawkins; Naylor Love Construction; Dominion Constructors Ltd; the NZ Transport Agency; and the Auckland
Council are jointly sponsoring the roadmap, which will guide skills needed in construction and infrastructure for the
next five years.
“Once, we find out what the industry needs, it’s up to us to deliver the right qualifications, the right skills,” says
Auckland’s workforce roadmap sets a direction for others to follow.
“This collaboration is a great example of what one sector can achieve,” says Mark. “We’re asking for government to
ensure industry can lead the future of industry training. Then we can really bridge the skills gap and make more of a