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Forum to focus Nelson minds on closing skills gap

4 March 2003 Media Statement

Forum to focus Nelson minds on closing local skills gap

Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey is in Nelson today for the first of a nationwide series of forums on how to address regional skill shortages.

Continued employment growth has led to skill and labour shortages emerging in regional economies. In the Nelson, Tasman and Marlborough districts there are currently only approximately 1,500 registered job seekers, meaning that competition for suitable workers is becoming intense. In addition, official advice predicts that demand for additional staff will remain high this year.

Steve Maharey said the government has the ability to siginificantly tailor employment and skills training programmes to meet local employer needs and to ensure local job seekers are able to take up these positions.

“Low unemployment across New Zealand is creating difficulties that New Zealand has not experienced for some time. A lack of skilled staff is cited by some firms as impeding their growth potential.

“At the same time there is a pool of potential workers looking for work who lack the appropriate entry level skills for these industries. The Ministry of Social Development, working in partnership with a range of government and non-government organisations, is able to bridge these people into employment and support them to stay there.

“Across this year the social services and employment Ministerial team intends bringing together employers, unions, training providers and government departments in regionally-based forums to concretely identify what further steps can be taken to ease skill shortages and grow local economies.

“The government recognises we need to be creative about how we respond to tight regional labour markets. Working together with local communities will enable us to respond more quickly and effectively to local needs,” Steve Maharey said.

The Nelson forum is the first of 13 planned around the country this year. A schedule of further forums will be issued shortly.

ENDS

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