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Skills shortages holding back economic development

Skills shortages holding back economic development

Industry and Regional Development Minister Jim Anderton said today at the national meeting of the Aviation and Marine Engineers' Association that the Government is aware that one of the greatest problems the New Zealand economy faces is a lack of skilled workers.

"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.

"At the same time we have skill shortages which are a major barrier to development in many of our industries and regions.

"I heard recently that in Ashburton there are so many job vacancies that employers are looking overseas for workers. There are also jobs for two hundred freezing workers that can't be filled. The West Coast is sending people to England this month searching for skilled workers.

"We need to develop solutions now for the future, and the Labour Progressive Government is working with sectors and industries to establish skills training in every area of technical skill which our economy is short of - from carpentry to electronic engineering.

"One example is the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT) and the Royal New Zealand Air Force which have developed an aviation training agreement. Civilian students will be able to train for aircraft maintenance engineering at RNZAF's Ground Training Wing at Woodbourne. This agreement will see NMIT offering the National Certificate in Aeronautical Engineering starting with the 2003 academic year.

"New Zealand's future depends on high quality courses run in partnership with government, industry and training providers all ensuring that our young people can take up highly satisfying jobs.

"The Aviation and Marine Engineers' Association has an average age of membership of over 50 and there are job vacancies already for aviation and marine engineers.

"Existing skill shortages will look like a kindergarten picnic in comparison to future shortages if we don't tackle the problem now," said Jim Anderton.

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