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Carpet and textiles industries Cadet scheme launch

Hon Jim Anderton
14 September 2002 Speech Notes

Carpet and textiles industries Cadet scheme launch

Launch of the Carpet and Yarn Industry National Diploma and Cadetship in Textiles

5:15 pm
Saturday, 14 September 2002

Launch of Cadetship in Textiles at the Textile Institute Annual Conference
Waipuna Hotel, 58 Waipuna Rd, Auckland

When I was in Opposition I made a number of speeches where I said that the major economic problem facing New Zealand was a lack of jobs.

Unemployment is a scourge, and I remain convinced that an economy can never perform to its full potential while there is a significant proportion of the workforce unable to participate and contribute.

The lack of jobs meant many young New Zealanders lost hope.

Today less than three years later although we have the lowest unemployment in 14 years, at 5.1 per cent, we still have too many unemployed.

However today the cause of our unemployment is different.

Up and down New Zealand, in our regions, and throughout a range of industries we have vacant jobs but we don’t have the skilled workers to take them up.

Throughout the 80s and 90s Governments adopted a ‘she’ll be right’ mentality to skills and training. If we did nothing then magically the labour market would sort itself out. Predictably it didn’t.

We now face unfilled jobs and unemployment side by side and we have had to rebuild industry training, in some cases from nothing but the good will of employers.

I can remember clearly that only a few years ago the word ‘apprentice’ was a dirty word.

Industry training declined and young talented New Zealanders weren’t trained.

The economy has been reaping what was sown in the last 20 years.

What does impress me is the way in which industries are changing this picture and working with government, training providers and each other to reestablish training.

Lack of skills is now one of the most important barriers to economic growth that New Zealand faces.

One of the missing ingredients has been partnership with Government.

I am pleased to say that today the Government has partnered industry training and there are now 3,000 new apprentices in training and over 68,000 people in industry training.

Now as I tour New Zealand and hear about skills shortages I also see evidence of cadetships and training programmes like this one.

What is good to see is business competitors working together to create training programmes that benefit the whole industry.

The Textiles, Clothing, Footwear and Carpet industries all have huge growth potential. All require some creativity and all have the potential to increase the volume of exports and domestic sales.

This Labour Progressive Government has seen the partnership formed between your industries, unions and the government as important for contributing to our economic growth.

Textiles, Clothing, Footwear and Carpet industry taskforce members were brought together in October last year to address barriers to industry growth. One of the key working Groups this taskforce formed has looked at Training and Upskilling and has been led by Ian Barbour of Feltex.

I am pleased that the Taskforce has produced a draft sector strategy which is now being considered by the industry and interested parties.

There is scope for discussion and even argument about the emphasis and details of the strategy but to me the key points are clear. They are:

- First that this industry has a strong future.

- Secondly that the future depends on increased co-operation and collective action in marketing, sharing best practice and in forming strategic relationships between manufacturers, marketers, retailers and customers.

- Training and up-skilling are essential for the future of the all the industries involved.

The next phase is implementation of the strategy. One important part of the strategy that contributes to achieving most of the outcomes the Taskforce has identified is the formation of an industry development organisation.

It is envisaged that this organisation could:

- provide expert advice on business practices and marketing

- link firms with others

- promote the image of the industry to prospective recruits and to investors

- provide contacts for overseas firms seeking supplies from New Zealand

- promote good management including an ethical code of good practice

- organise international trade missions to develop new markets.

The Government has already committed to your industries through funding the development of the strategy and contributing to the programme we are here to launch today.

I am prepared to speculate that, depending on the support of your industry, it is possible the Government will contribute to forming a new industry development organisation.

However, any contribution will need to be tied to significant industry support through funding and active contribution to the organisation by industry members and businesses.

I leave that offer for you to consider.

Today I am pleased to be here to launch the new cadet scheme. Although the courses were developed with Industry and Regional development funding assistance they are your courses and have been developed to meet your industry’s needs.

According to the Ministry of Economic Development’s nationwide survey of business practices, which is due to be released next month, only 26 per cent of the businesses in your industries have put any resources into employee training in the last 12 months.

Yet when firms tried to employ staff, 16 per cent said that they never found the specialist skills they needed and 53 per cent found them only sometimes.

This new cadet scheme goes some way towards addressing these skills shortages.

The scheme will link industry needs with training. One of the issues the industry faces is that the young people attracted to the clothing business want to be top fashion designers. They don’t want to be, or just don’t know about the opportunities that exist for, skilled pattern-makers or textile workers. Yet the industry needs only a few fashion designers and many more skilled pattern-makers and textile workers.

I want to congratulate all those who have worked on this initiative.

I particularly want to acknowledge the contribution of Ian Barbour, John Dorgan and Tim Pearson.

I know there were many others who contributed their time and their ideas and I also want to thank them for their efforts.

Your work is laying a foundation for the future success and prosperity of the Textiles, Clothing, Footwear and Carpet industries. It will also lay the foundations for many promising careers.

I hope this cadet scheme will be a success for all the companies and individuals involved. It provides a model that other industries can adopt and use to address their skills shortages so I will be watching your progress with interest.

I am conscious when discussing how to make our industries grow that there are many steps that are needed.

Developing appropriate training is one of the fundamental steps in developing all industries.

And as the Chinese say, the journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step.

Thank you for your commitment and your willingness to embark on this important journey of broadening and deepening the base of New Zealand’s economy.

I have been asked to present four Textile Institute Honorary Diplomas.

Four people have been elected to receive Honorary Diplomas in Textiles in recognition of their outstanding service and commitment to the carpet and yarn industries over many years.

lan Barbour is the General Manager for Feltex, New Zealand Operations. He has held various senior roles in the company over the past 25 years, including in sales and marketing, mergers and acquisitions, and more recently manufacturing. Ian has a passion for achieving excellence, and is a very strong supporter of learning in general. Within Feltex, he has created a learning environment and encourages employees to develop their skills through education. He is also a strong supporter of the textile industry partnership with the Government (through the Ministry for Economic Development and Industry New Zealand) and is the Convenor of the Industry Training and Upskilling Group, which was set up as part of that-partnership. This Group has been instrumental in getting the new Cadetship and-National Diploma Programmes up and running.

Keith Jowsey has a very long involvement with textiles. Although now retired, Keith remains very active, particularly in the training and up-skilling initiatives throughout the textile industry. Keith is the current Chairman of the ATITO, and is also President of the Textiles Institute Australasian Region.

Tony Timpson is Chairman of Cavalier Bremworth, a company he co-founded in the early 1970s. Tony remains one of the most influential figures in the New Zealand carpet industry, although he has retired from day-to-day management activities. Tony has always been very innovative and active in seeking new product ideas, in product development and in marketing and sales. He still retains a significant interest in the carpet industry, and has served at various times on the Wool Board and WRONZ, as well as being involved in wool growing initiatives.

Blue May has a long and varied career with the textile industry. This started in Dunedin where he worked in Alliance Textiles’ corporate office followed by a stint running the Timaru wool top manufacturing plant, and then to the carpet yarn plant in Oamaru, where he was divisional manager. Blue became a shareholder of-Summit Woolspinners in Oamaru in the early 1990s and introduced Sumitomo Corporation to the business around this time. Blue remained managing director of Summit for several years, and maintained a strong focus on marketing. Over four years he drove the company's exports to the United States from zero to 2000 tonnes a year. Blue remains deputy chairman of WRONZ, but since his move, to Auckland has relinquished the chairmanship of the NZ Woollen Mills Association, and seats on the Oamaru Licensing Trust and the Waitaki Development Board. He remains, however, a true blue supporter of Otago rugby.


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