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Manukau Growth Rate 5.7%

24 May 2004

Manukau Growth Rate 5.7%

Manukau's economic growth rate was 5.7% for the 2003 year, compared to the national rate of 3.5%. The strong growth reflects the healthy demand in construction, property and business services, education, health and community services, transport and storage industries.

The housing building boom, which has focused on the Botany area, has seen large increases in dwelling consents and construction jobs. Over the past six months more than 1100 new dwelling consents were issued by Manukau City Council.

The strong economy produced 7,500 new jobs over the year and approximately 500 new businesses set up or relocated in the city.

Mayor Sir Barry Curtis says the Council works hard to attract new companies and promote the benefits of Manukau both within New Zealand and overseas through its economic development agency, Enterprising Manukau.

"We have many strengths - lots of available land, excellent infrastructure and excellent access to transport links such as the airport and ports.

"I am delighted that the newcomers include foreign companies and the Council is now in discussions with two large businesses which together will create 700 jobs once they're established here". One of the projects is a new industrial park in Mangere East and the other is a US company which produces high-performance car parts.

"However I do have strong concerns over the education standards of our workforce. We are still lacking the numbers of qualified, skilled people that employers need. Our schools are still turning out too many unskilled youngsters with no or few qualifications. At a time when businesses are having trouble finding skilled staff, there are over 14,000 unemployed in Manukau. That's a real mismatch.

"It's tragic that so many teenagers leave school at 15 with poor reading and writing kills and no plans to go on to higher education. They are not getting the support they need to achieve.

"We need to ensure that that young people have the same passion to become engineers, technicians or computer programmers....as they have for rapping and skateboarding.

"There'll be few jobs for unskilled and unqualified people in the workforce of tomorrow, when even forklifts will be operated by robots. Improving education levels is essential for the city and we need to make progress fast."

ENDS

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