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PM's Speech To Forestry Industries Training Awards

Rt Hon Helen Clark
Prime Minister


Forestry Industries Training Awards

Convention Centre

6.00 pm

Tuesday 23 April 2002

Thank you for inviting me to be part of this important awards ceremony for the forestry industry this evening.

We are here to celebrate the training achievements of both individuals and companies in one of our country¡¦s leading industries.

As Prime Minister I am well aware of the importance of forestry to New Zealand. This industry earned $3.7 billion in export revenue in the year to March, making up 11.7 per cent of our export earnings.

Some estimates suggest that within twenty five years, forestry will have jumped from being the third biggest export earner to the first, earning around $14 billion a year for New Zealand.

As everyone in the forestry industry knows a massive supply of wood is coming on stream. The aim of the government, working with the industry, is to maximise the returns to New Zealand. That is why Jim Anderton and his officials have been engaged alongside the forestry companies in developing a wood processing strategy. That process has been identifying the challenges we must meet to get the most from our forests for our country.

At an early stage the forestry industry identified a major shortage of skilled labour to harvest and process the wood. Like many other industries, this one was keen to see new strategies to boost skills training. In turn, our government is absolutely committed to developing a skilled workforce. Together, we are achieving a great deal.

The government¡¦s side of the partnership is to provide leadership, funding, and programmes for training. Industry¡¦s side is its willingness to train and fund as well. The individual worker¡¦s role is to be prepared to train and upskill to take the industry ahead.

I am very excited by what we have jointly achieved in forestry training. This Forestry Industries Training Organisation is the largest industry training organisation in New Zealand. By the end of this year, you will have 9,976 trainees of all ages in your programmes. That represents an increase of one hundred per cent in just four years. That has been achieved by your commitment to training and with the help of substantial extra government funding.

The need is great. John Blakey tells us that your trainee numbers will need to grow by another one hundred per cent over the next five years to meet industry requirements. Indeed you will need to retrain the existing workforce at least twice more in its working lifetime to keep up with change! That is why it is so important to develop a training culture among our forestry workers and companies.

One of our most exciting programmes is the new Modern Apprenticeship Programme. We came into government convinced that apprenticeships needed to be re-invented and promoted. Parents and grandparents told us that the young people in their families wanted the chance to be apprentices. We launched the new programme in March 2000, and it has been a phenomenal success.

By June we will have three thousand Modern Apprentices nationwide. The forestry industry has been very supportive. Around fourteen per cent of the new apprentices are in this industry, and you aim to have four hundred in place by the end of the year.

We have other programmes backing training in forestry too !

„h Throughout the country, Skill New Zealand funds twenty seven Training Opportunities programmes for the forestry industry. They provide a way into the industry for people with low or no qualifications.

„h There are currently twenty Youth Training programmes offering skills training for low qualified school leavers.

„h There are also three Skill Enhancement programmes in forestry for young Maori and Pacific peoples, who are able to finish national certificates at levels three and four on the National Qualifications Framework.

Taken together, the Training Opportunities programme, Youth Training, and Skill Enhancement will provide over 500 training places in the industry in the 2002 calendar year.

The government also wants secondary school students to be more aware of the careers available in forestry. A new initiative called Gateway, being piloted in twenty four schools, enables students to be in a workplace relevant to their job aspirations, while earning national qualifications.

We have also introduced workplace literacy projects in conjunction with the Forest Industries Training Council and employers. As of December 31 2001, there were three such programmes running for Solid Wood Processing employees, catering for over sixty employees in three separate enterprises. It is expected that these programmes will expand into other enterprises. Being able to read well is vital to undertaking higher levels of industry training.

All these initiatives are possible because of the commitment of this industry to training.

Can I especially thank John Blakey for his leadership in industry training. He has the government¡¦s great respect for his advocacy and contribution, not only in the forestry industry, but also through his role as Chair of the Industry Training Federation.

Congratulations to all those receiving awards this evening. Thank you to all the families, workmates, and companies who have supported the award winning trainees. And thank you to the companies receiving recognition this evening for your commitment to a training culture in the industry. Our government looks forward to continuing to work with you to get the best results for New Zealand from the forestry industry.

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