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Skills Action Plan To Boost Taranaki Economy

Skills Action Plan To Boost Taranaki Economy

A skills action plan released on Thursday will address an exploration industry bugbear and further boost the Taranaki economy, Pepanz executive officer John Pfahlert said.

The Department of Labour and the Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand released the plan, called Producing the Talent, at Te Papa.

Mr Pfahlert said he was pleased to see the industry’s workforce skills shortage being addressed. He was also excited about the prospect of a training facility for oil and gas industry process workers, based on existing facilities, set-up close to the heart of the industry in Taranaki.

“Attracting and retaining skilled labour has long been an issue for the industry. We are competing for labour in an increasingly tight job market, with countries, in particular Australia, aggressively recruiting from New Zealand.”

Mr Pfahlert said labour shortages loomed as a major constraint on the industry.

“We are seeing the pace of exploration speed up, and the recent release of more blocks in Taranaki means this growth in exploration will continue. At the same time the workforce is contracting, particularly as older workers retire from the sector. This plan provides a road map of how we can encourage new entrants into the industry, retain the workforce we have and attract skilled labour from elsewhere.”

He said the plan focused first on boosting the number of people entering relevant training, with the industry looking to build working relationships with universities, schools and technical institutes.
“There is an opportunity to set-up specific petroleum training programmes and to have masters or doctorate programmes in petroleum geosciences.”

Taranaki could also be home to a new training facility, but in the short term was more likely to involve training using existing operational facilities run by production companies.

“In the past a lack of funding has seen this kind of initiative fall at the first hurdle. Now we have industry players keen to get alongside such a facility, which could act as an entry point to the exploration sector,” he said.

The skills action plan’s second step is to promote career development within the workforce.

Step three is recruiting workers from overseas and would be a collaboration between Immigration New Zealand, Pepanz and oil and gas companies.

While the plan was a long-term one, its release was a first step towards securing the exploration industry’s workforce for the future, Mr Pfahlert said.



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