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Anderton Address to Aviation and Marine Engineers'

Anderton Address to Aviation and Marine Engineers' Association

· Economic growth and barriers to development

I have visited all regions of New Zealand and the growth and optimism is unlike anything I have seen in the last 40 years.

Recently the New Zealand Herald ran a story about a New Zealand Institute of Economic Research report under the headline "Survey reveals economy at full steam."

It started with the very technical description of an upturn in growth; it read "the economy is going like the clappers.."

It went on to say that our economy is running into 'capacity constraints'.

The report from the NZIER talks positively of GDP increases higher than the annual four per cent the Labour Progressive Government has targeted for sustained economic growth.

But I don't believe the economy is yet at full steam.

It is growing, and 'like the clappers' is as good a description as any.

However capacity constraints are preventing the full potential of New Zealand's development from being realised.

We need to have strong productivity growth, year on year, for the foreseeable future if we are to reach the top half of the OECD rankings for growth, economic development and employment and to become the 'Pacific Tiger' economy we could be.

Currently much of our growth has been achieved by using spare capacity, such as the unemployed and under-utilised capital equipment.

However real sustainable increases in productivity can only come as we improve our infrastructure, physical and human, and work together to develop our economy.

· Skilled workers major barrier to further development

But as you all know the greatest problem we face is a lack of skilled workers.

When I was in opposition and meeting people up and down New Zealand the issue was a shortage of jobs.

Unemployment is a social and economic 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.

Today less than three years since this coalition government was elected, we have the lowest unemployment in 14 years, at 5.1 per cent, yet we still have too many unemployed - particularly young New Zealanders and even more particularly Maori and Pacific Island New Zealanders.

Only yesterday the Government released the DWI figures which show that the registered unemployed in some regions has declined as much as 70 per cent.

As you know, 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 successive New Zealand 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 sitting, ironically, side by side and we have had to rebuild industry training.

I heard recently that in Ashburton there are so many job vacancies that employers are looking overseas for workers. The West Coast is going to England this month in search of skilled workers. There are also jobs for two hundred freezing worker that can't be filled - when did that last happen?

· Industry training partnerships are solutions

In your industry, finding skilled workers is a significant issue.

You are high skilled workers doing important jobs that require precision. All of you keep our transport industry moving and keep people safe.

I also understand in your industry the average age is over 50 and the number of newly qualified engineers coming through the tertiary education system is no where near enough to satisfy this growing demand.

There are solutions.

They aren't quick fix solutions that can be applied instantly but they do require that we start as soon as possible to enlarge our trained workforce.

The Government has begun to re-engage with industries and unions.

We are now seeing partnerships between government, training providers and industry to re-establish training courses. Unions have a strong part to play in encouraging these courses and helping to ensure that new workers are properly trained to do the jobs that they need to do.

I am pleased to say that today the Labour Progressive Government has partnered industry training and there are now 3,000 new apprentices in training and over 68,000 New Zealanders in industry training. We aim to double that number over the next three years.

One option is training which has a job available at the end of the course.

In your industry as an example, the Aviation, Tourism and Travel Training Organisation has been contracted by Skill New Zealand to provide the Modern Apprenticeship Co-ordination Services and to assist in meeting the local shortage of skilled aeronautical engineers.

I am also supportive of the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT) and the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) developing an aviation training agreement. Under this agreement civilian students will be able to train for aircraft maintenance engineering at RNZAF's internationally reputed Ground Training Wing at Base Woodbourne under the auspices of the civilian training provider.

This agreement will see NMIT offering the National Certificate in Aeronautical Engineering starting with the 2003 academic year. Almost all units of this NZQA accredited programme will be taught at the base, with classrooms, laboratories, workshops and specialist aircraft training facilities at hand for the students.

New Zealand's future depends on high quality courses to ensure our young people can take up high quality satisfying jobs such as those in the engineering field.

· New ideas

However to keep the flow of good jobs in New Zealand our future also depends on generating and capitalising on the talent of New Zealanders.

We need to ensure we make the best use of our new ideas.

This week I announced the 22nd round of grants to innovative businesses and individuals who have developed new ideas which can create jobs.

These Enterprise Awards are two years old this month.

After two years the applications aren't slowing down.

There are now more, not less innovative New Zealanders coming forward to develop their new ideas.

There are other programmes and ways to assist but this is a story I see repeated up and down New Zealand.

· Talent and innovation of New Zealand engineers; Christchurch Engine Centre
· Hamilton jet boats
· Bruce McLaren
· Britten Motorcycles
· Refrigerated container ships
· Tauranga Motor Mowers
· One million toaster grillers
· Angus Tait

There are many examples but the message is clear, New Zealanders are talented and we have more ideas and creative energy per head of population than nations much larger than ours. We can and do punch above out weight in the international arena.

What New Zealanders do and what they have done is often brilliant, but we are reluctant to be seen to be promoting ourselves.
· World Class New Zealanders
· Science, business, artists, sports (Ed Hilary, Americas Cup)

I want every young New Zealander to look at successful New Zealanders and believe 'that could be me.'

I want us to celebrate our successes.

I want our kids to inherit a New Zealand where everyone has the opportunity to develop their talents to the full.

Where our success becomes an inspiration for others and where every young person has the chance to give it a go.

I see your industry as a wonderful opportunity for young people join and make the most of their abilities.

Thank you

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