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Answers to kiwi manufacturing slump

Tuesday, 04 December 2007

Modern apprentices could be answer to kiwi manufacturing slump, says MIT

Manukau Institute of Technology’s modern apprentice numbers continue to rise, in line with the national trend. With the government aiming for 14,000 apprentices by 2008, MIT had 180 last year and more than 200 for 2007, on top of the 16 completing their apprenticeships for 2007.

Since MIT became a coordinator of Modern Apprenticeships in 2000 a total of 422 apprentices have come through the institute’s system.

MIT Modern Apprenticeships coordinator Larry Wiechern says the scheme has been a tremendous success for both the institute and industry.

“It is very disappointing to read ongoing negative remarks about the scheme. These comments, largely political, are not at all reflective of the success of the initiative or the real-world value it has provided to business and industry, on both a regional and national scale,” says Larry.

Larry adds that through working with the modern apprentices the valuable insight into current practices and awareness of emerging trends means that as a tertiary training provider, MIT is able to ensure courses are kept on track, modern and relevant.

“Through this scheme, MIT has been able to work closely with our industry partners in establishing what they need from their future tradespeople. Because of this close collaboration,n through both the employers and the modern apprentices, we ensure our courses and training are exactly what is needed for today’s and future market needs.”

MIT’s tutors are out there in industry and act as go-betweens for the students, according to Larry, and “they are able to see first hand current practices within the manufacturing sector”.

“The New Zealand manufacturing sector has been hit hard by the kiwi dollar and other economic changes. We’ve heard of major iconic brands, such as Fisher & Paykel, moving operations offshore to cut costs.

“While New Zealand may struggle to run operations as cheaply as some countries offshore, there is huge scope for financial gain by having ‘smart’ practices and ensuring that the quality of the products the country produces far outstrips those made in other places.

“If we ensure that our future workers are highly skilled and well trained, we will ensure that we can recoup what has been seen as significant losses in the manufacturing sector. The Modern Apprenticeships scheme is the first step towards that.”

Set up by the government, the Modern Apprenticeships scheme links industry and polytechnics in a move to combat the severe skills shortage that many New Zealand businesses currently face.


Larry Wiechern, Modern Apprenticeships coordinator, believes the scheme is the first step towards combating the manufacturing sector crisis in New Zealand.

About MIT

Manukau Institute of Technology is one New Zealand’s largest polytechnics. It offers more than 100 formal programmes at degree, diploma and certificate level and has a student population of around 32,000. Established in 1970 as the country’s first purpose built polytechnic, MIT delivers vocational education and training. With a workforce of 900, MIT is one of the biggest employers in the Counties Manukau region. Manukau City is New Zealand’s fastest growing metropolis.


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