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Graduates Land In Aerospace Sector

News Release
March 18, 2004

Ten Out Of Ten For Wintec Graduates

All 10 students who graduated this month from the Waikato Institute of Technology's (Wintec's) first-ever Fabrication Foundations course have been employed by Hamilton-based Pacific Aerospace Corporation.

The 12-week pilot course, which was aimed at developing sheetmetal skills, was oriented around the aviation industry.

Pacific Aerospace Corporation detail section manager, Tony Clark, says the course was formed at the company's urging to address the problem of skills shortages.

"There's an acknowledged widespread shortage of skills within various trades in New Zealand," he says. "This is especially true in the aerospace industry."

Clark says the shortage of skilled tradespeople, combined with Pacific Aerospace Corporation's current growth, meant the company was delighted to be able to take on 10 new recruits. This was in addition to 11 full-time personnel the company employed earlier this year.

"The fact that they are all Waikato residents makes it even better," he says. "The graduates are now working on component manufacturing. We manufacture our own aircraft parts, so there will be plenty to keep them busy over the next 12 to 18 months. After that, they will be eligible to apply for internal positions."

Clark describes the course as ideal for anyone wanting to enter the aviation industry and very customised to what Pacific Aerospace Corporation is after. The first course included two days' work experience at Pacific Aerospace Corporation, so the company was able to assess the students first hand.

The programme manager responsible for the course within Wintec's Building and Transport Department, James Geddes, says the course - a first for New Zealand as well as for Wintec - was an unqualified success.

"When all 10 students find employment as soon as they graduate, you'd have to say it was a success," he enthuses. "We hope to repeat the course later this year."

The Certificate in Fabrication Foundations is a unit standard-based qualification with Wintec and is approved and accredited for funding by the Ministry of Education.

Pacific Aerospace Corporation's CEO Brian Hare says the latest intake of personnel could not have come at a better time as the company is entering a period of unprecedented growth.

"We are preparing for our busiest year ever with impressive order numbers for our flagship PAC 750XL aircraft following US FAA certification last week as well as increased orders for all the other aircraft in our fleet," says Hare. "This and major expansion plans for our manufacturing plant means skilled labour will be paramount for us."

Tertiary Education Commission advisor Tere Vickridge, of Hamilton, confirms that TEC is definitely looking to assist with the running of more employment initiatives to address the skills shortage situation.

"We look forward to continuing the relationship we've established with Pacific Aerospace Corporation and Wintec," says Vickridge.


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