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Government to address skills shortages

Maharey commits Government to address skills shortages

The time has come for action to address skills shortages in the economy, the Associate Education (Tertiary Education) Minister Steve Maharey told a forestry industry training audience in Rotorua this evening.

Mr Maharey was addressing the inaugural Celebration of Training Champions Awards organised through the Forest Industries Training and Education Council. New Zealand's forestry industry generates $2.3 billion in export earnings in an average year and directly employs 23,000 people. The industry is poised to grow considerably over the next decade due to newly maturing forests but growth is being hampered by the lack of skilled workers available to log them.

"Forestry is typical of many skilled industries in New Zealand. Forests are being locked up until enough skilled workers are available to maintain and mill them.

"The outlook for our economy is a strong one and the forest industry, amongst others, is positioned very well to recognise its potential. It would be a tragedy if this potential was nipped in the bud because we are not giving people the chance to be part of the skilled workforce.

"The Government is committed to providing effective solutions to skills shortages. Already this year we have announced a new Modern Apprenticeships programme to increase the number of New Zealanders involved in on-job mentored skills training. Earlier this month I also announced that we are making available additional funds this financial year to meet the costs of increased demand for training run through the ITOs.

"Partnership with industry can help us to further increase training options. I am not interested in a talk-fest – the time has come for action. We need to know where the roadblocks are and to speedily remove them.

"I can also confirm that a requirement for Work and Income Regional Commissioners to work with local industry to identify and plug skills gaps will be written into the new purchase agreement with the Department.

"I am signalling today that the Government is prepared to make available the resources at its disposal and that we want to hear how industry thinks they can be used to best effect," Steve Maharey said.

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