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Graduation Speech for Heinz Watties Australasia

Hon Parekura Horomia

11 May 2001 SPEECH
Graduation Speech for Heinz Watties Australasia


Tena koutou katoa. I am delighted to be here at the graduation ceremony for 250 staff at the Heinz Wattie's Australasia plant in Hastings.

Last year my colleague Steve Maharey was here. He presented national certificates to 100 staff. Next year I hope to be given the chance to present more qualifications to even more staff.

I am myself a graduate from the university of life. I've been a shearer, a fencing contractor, a printer and a scrub cutter. So I know what it is like to do a hard days work. Sometimes I wish I was back there and not having to deal with the bureaucracy and paperwork in my current job.

In making that comment, I would like to state up front that I completely support people getting an education. Why? Because education gives people choices. It gives people choices which those without qualifications do not get easily. I want opportunities for my mokopuna, for my children, for my relations, for my friends, for Maoridom and for all people in Aotearoa.

Not only is it good for the individual but the country needs it as well. To compete in the global market we need a country with the best scientists producing cutting edge production technology. We need the research and development staff in the private sector. We need people who are very good at what they do in whatever field they work. We need to be encourage ourselves to keep trying and to get better.

Today's Ceremony
I want to start by congratulating the management of Heinz Watties Australasia for your vision and drive that has given your staff the chance to keep learning and to achieve nationally recognised qualifications. Without a doubt, this level of staff training means your company is serious about developing the potential of your work force. Today is the culmination of hard work and organisation by management, staff and industry training organisations (ITOs).

A willing and able management team and a sound training infrastructure is only part of the picture. Today would not have been possible without staff who were motivated and hungry to learn. Congratulations to all of you who have achieved national certificates. You have shown energy, motivation and skill and it is a tremendous effort that you can be proud of.

Last but not least, recognition must always be paid to your whanau. Thank you for getting in behind your family member and helping them reach their goal. It is not easy combining workplace learning with a full-time job, family responsibilities, kids and all of the other things that demand time. But here at Heinz Watties Australiasia you have found a way that works.

Industry Training System
What we see here today represents the very best of the government's Industry Training Strategy. We are committed to workplace learning. We want to walk the talk - and people like you show us the kind of pathway that others can follow. You show us genuine achievement.

However, even with the efforts of Heinz Wattie’s Australasia and the ITOs, across New Zealand we still do not have the kind of integrated skills and employment strategy that we require.

We need an industry training system that is closely aligned with industry and regional development, employment and wider compulsory and post compulsory education and training policies. We need an industry training system that can very quickly respond to emerging challenges in the labour market.

We have seen positive developments under the current system. As the associate Minister of Education and Employment I am delighted to say that there has been an increase in the number of trainees (from 25,000 during the 1980’s to 63,000 in 2000) and a stronger sense of industry control and ownership.

Modern Apprenticeships
As the Minister of Maori Affairs I am extremely pleased to see the success of the Modern Apprentices. I'll talk more about that later.
During the 1990s, industry trainees got older. In December 1999, only 10 percent of trainees in structured training were aged 16-19 years, and only 24 percent were 20 –24 years-of-age. Two-thirds were aged 25 years and older. In some industries, a high proportion was in the forty-plus age group. So, although more people were participating in industry training, the number of young people taking part was reducing.
The Modern Apprenticeships scheme is the first step in addressing some of the limitations within our industry training system.
Last year we aimed to generate 500 new modern apprenticeships, rising to 1,500 by July 2001 and 3,000 by the end of 2001. I understand that Heinz Wattie’s Australasia has taken on four modern apprentices.
The first target has been met. As at February, 518 modern apprenticeships were in place in the building and construction, dairy manufacturing, electricity and electrical, engineering, hospitality, printing, and telecommunications industries.
The second stage of the roll out is well underway. The second stage extends the programme into the agriculture, forestry and fisheries, community and social services, food and related products processing, and service industries.
The evaluation of the Modern Apprenticeship pilots has been positive. Generally, employers have responded well and there has been steady interest from young people, their parents and whanau.
As Minister of Maori Affairs, I am delighted with Maori participation in Modern Apprenticeships. A recent evaluation report showed that 20% of Modern apprentices are Maori. Almost half of the apprentices are in forestry, then the wool industry and then carpentry. I think Modern Apprenticeships are encouraging young Mäori to consider careers in industry. This is good news and an exciting development in employment opportunities for Mäori.”

Industry training review
The second step in addressing the limitations of the current industry training system is the industry training review. We like the fact that industry has become more involved in structured education and training. We want to build on that industry ownership.
The emphasis over the past decade has been on the development of the system and its infrastructure. Now is the time to address the problems that have emerged and to enhance the performance and effectiveness of the system.
The review commenced in July 2000. There have been meetings between stakeholders and officials to discuss interests in some depth, a meeting with Maori stakeholders, and regular contact with employers, the Industry Training Federation, and the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions. Interviews have also been conducted with firms, with Industry Training Organisations, and unions.
A public consultation document was released in March this year and submissions closed last month. That document makes it clear that we are happy with the industry training system’s defining features i.e. Industry Training Organisations, competency-based education and training, and the National Qualifications Framework.
But to succeed in the future we must have an industry training system that::
1. continues to raise the quantity and quality of skills held by the workforce;
2. responds rapidly to the changing skill needs of the economy;
3. equips more New Zealanders to successfully participate in the New Zealand workforce; and
4. becomes more accessible and responsive to all groups in the workforce, including Maori, Pacific peoples, women and migrants.

The Government is still considering the best ways to improve the system. I would like to stress one point though. Industry training is not a second chance educational pathway. There is no intention to use industry training as a safety net to remedy the failures of the schools sector. Those issues will be addressed through education policies, not remedied through vocational education and training interventions.
I want to thank you for the opportunity to speak today. I wish you all well for the future and may you continue learning throughout your lives!
Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.

CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY embargoed unTIL 5pm Saturday 12 May 2001

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