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Skills Shortages Threaten Positive Outlook

Employers welcome the Government’s proposed improvements to industry training, but feel the effort comes too late to help companies already struggling with skill shortages.

The Employers and Manufacturers Association (Central) says the positive outlook New Zealand has achieved this year, in the face of global downturn, could be seriously at risk due to the lack of trained people available to fill skilled positions.

All branches of the EMA Central’s region, from Gisborne to Nelson, are working with employers struggling to fill vacancies for skilled staff. In some cases the inability to fill positions will directly impact on the company’s ability to grow, EMA chief executive Paul Winter says.

The recent efforts of the Government to free up immigration for skilled workers with “Talent Visas” will not do enough to fill desperately need positions in forestry, manufacturing and agriculture.

“Immigration isn’t the quick fix the Government would like it to be. Unemployment is at its lowest point for 13 years. We need to think about solutions now, or we simply won’t be able to achieve further growth,” Mr Winter says.

“We need to concentrate on upskilling the workforce we already have.”

The Tertiary Education Reform Bill had its first reading in Parliament this week and has been sent to a select committee for submissions.

Mr Winter hopes the new legislation will increase Government investment in education and training targeted at the skills required for business, particularly the export sector.
It also need find ways to bring unemployed mature workers back into the workforce with valuable skills.

“Exporting manufacturers know they have to keep lifting the levels of quality in their production to stay competitive overseas, and that means capable staff, learning new skills, on the job.”

ENDS

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