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Duynhoven: Address Registered Trainers & Assessors

Harry Duynhoven: Address to the inaugural Registered Trainers and Assessors Conference sponsored by the Extractive Industries Training Organisation (EXITO)

Adress to the inaugural Registered Trainers and Assessors Conference sponsored by the Extractive Industries Training Organisation (EXITO)

EXITO a fine example of how to make young people aware of the importance of mining and quarrying has to the economy and the great potential there is for a career within the industry

Welcome to the inaugural Registered Trainers and Assessors Conference sponsored by the Extractive Industries Training Organisation (EXITO).

I would like to thank our guests who have travelled from overseas and those of you from other parts of the country who have made the effort to be here today. Your presence is appreciated and I hope it is of benefit to each and every one of you.

In particular, I would like to thank Tom Reece, Executive Director of EXITO, for the invitation to address this conference.

As many of you already know I have a close affinity with the mining and quarrying industry through my role as Associate Minister of Energy. In addition, through my own professional experience, I can relate to the importance that well structured training and career paths have to tomorrow's workforce.

On a personal note, you could say 'I've been there done that'. I left school at a young age to serve an apprenticeship as an electrician, a particular rarity in Parliament I might add, an experience I thoroughly enjoyed and would recommend to today's school leavers. I later entered the education sector teaching engineering at New Plymouth Boys High.

So from a personal perspective I can understand the vital role that trainers and assessors play in educating the workforce so that industry best practice can be achieved.

Today I am going to talk to you about:

• the importance of the extractive industry to the economy;

• industry recruitment, training and retention; and

• last but not least, some of the initiatives that are underway to address the recruitment issues that currently confront the extractive industry.

In February 2002, the Government released its Growth and Innovation Framework Growing an Innovative New Zealand - in which it set an objective of increasing New Zealand's rate of growth so that our per capita income returns to the top half of the OECD and stays there. One of the objectives of this strategy is that New Zealanders 'Derive considerable value from our natural advantages in terms of resources, climate, human capital, infrastructure and sense of community".

The mining and quarrying sector plays an important part in achieving this objective. The discovery and responsible development of mineral resources provides for the nation to use its natural geological resources to its best advantage.

Let's put this in perspective. In the year ending June 2003, the total value of production from the minerals and coal industry in New Zealand was approximately $954 million.

This was made up of the following:

• Gold and silver $221 M

• Ironsand $30 M

• Coal $319 M

• Limestone, industrial rock and building stones $275 M

In the same period, mineral and coal exports earned approximately $519 M.

Based on the Ministry of Economic Development's most recently available data, in 2002/2003 the whole mining sector, including petroleum, contributed:

• 1.2% of real GDP

• 0.2% of employment and

• 2.7% of merchandise export receipts in 2002.

In real terms, the extractive industry's contribution has increased by 16.4% over the last decade. Furthermore, the cumulative value to the economy via PAYE, company taxes from businesses dependent on this industry, and social dividends, manifested as regional growth.

Impressive figures indeed. So why is it that it has become increasingly difficult to recruit young people into your industry? There are possibly a number of contributing factors, notably:

• A misconception about the industry. The idea that it is still a dirty, pick and shovel industry whereas in reality it is a highly technical and mechanised industry, both above and below ground;

• The perceived non-greenness of your industry, despite the part it plays in the economy and adds to the ease of everyday living. In some respects the industry may be a victim of its own caution as mining operations strive to make themselves somewhat 'invisible' by keeping a low media profile and shielding sites from view using bunding and planting; and

• The increasing public pressure to move quarries out of urban environments and into rural areas. It's no wonder that the majority of today's youth can't relate to the mining and quarrying industry and give due consideration to it as a future career option.

The Quarry Research undertaken by EXITO last year showed that retention in the industry is reasonable - once you get workers into the industry. Some 53% of those surveyed were over 40 years old, and 20% were over 50 years old. The ageing workforce is a major issue for most people in the industry.

For the ongoing good health and future of the industry we need a variety of approaches to bring younger people, particularly school leavers, into the industry. The place of the tradesperson needs to re-emphasised and the extractive industry needs to be placed on the radar of school leavers as a career opportunity. The government, as well as EXITO and industry, has a role to play here.

Only two weeks ago, speaking at the Post Primary Teachers Association conference, the Minister of Education, Hon Trevor Mallard, stated that high schools should get more students to consider trades. He went on to say that New Zealand, facing a shortage of skilled tradespeople, needs to shun the idea that "all roads lead to university" and that the knowledge economy requires we lift the skill levels of all New Zealanders. He said that all teenagers should get more advice at fourth form and know more about alternatives to university, like Modern Apprenticeships, trade training and institutes of technology.

The advent of Modern Apprenticeships and the 'learn while you earn' philosophy are two drivers that are assisting the spread of this message. Connecting this message to the on-job and off-job training that is available through ITOs, and the quality of such training, leads to the developmental role that training plays in preparing a person for a career. It is through a training regime that career pathways are available and it is this that the government, EXITO and the industry should be seeking to bring to young people's attention.

The Associate Minister of Education, recently announced that Modern Apprenticeship numbers have grown rapidly over the last year and that by September 2003 there were over 6,000 Modern Apprenticeships in place. The expected expenditure on this scheme in this financial year will be $25.2 million. The government sees Modern Apprenticeships as a prestige training pathway and has a target to increase this to 7,500 trainees by 2006.

I understand that EXITO has started the ball rolling in this regard by accepting 9 people into EXITO apprenticeships and is currently working with the Tertiary Education Commission towards converting these to Modern Apprenticeships.

I appreciate the problem that the industry faces with newcomers to the industry preferring to come in on a higher wage as an operator at the expense of entering into apprenticeships. Your industry however should where possible utilise this initiative to its advantage by increasing its apprentice intake. You need to make contact with Secondary School students as they begin to think about careers. There is a need to increase the knowledge of what this industry is about and to see the opportunities that are available.

I must acknowledge the good work that EXITO, with industry assistance, is doing in this area. In particular, the work that is currently underway with the Geographical Society and Secondary School Geography Teachers to provide improved learning and teaching resources for the 5th form geography unit "Renewable and Non-Renewable Resources". This is a fine example of how to make young people aware of the importance that mining and quarrying has to the economy and the great potential there is for a career with the industry.

EXITO is also the major sponsor for the Secondary Schools National Geography competition - again with the intention of bringing knowledge of this industry to the students involved.

Other more hands-on initiatives such as the EXITO 'Dig Action Road Show' appeal to the more mechanically minded youngsters and provides them with an opportunity to dig away to their hearts content in a mini-excavator. This initiative, combined with the presentation of career information via industry videos and displays, will encourage more school leavers to consider this industry as a career prospect.

There are also a number of other ongoing initiatives to address the skill and labour shortage in your industry, such as the Tai Poutini Polytechnic training facility at Reefton, Solid Energy's mining engineering scholarships, the proposed introduction of a Bachelor of Extractive Industry Management degree, and various in-house industry training regimes. All of which should be commended.

I know that workers in this industry take on a wide variety of work roles and for this reason it is often not possible to demonstrate a common path which all workers progress along. The onus however will fall on industry to ensure that any new entrants are placed in an appropriate training regime that leads towards progression down a well developed career path. That way the industry will retain a well trained and skilled workforce in the years to come.

The extractive industry will continue to play an essential role to meet the future mineral needs of New Zealand society.

• coal is well positioned to take advantage of the increased world demand, and rising prices has lead to a resurgence of interest in domestic coal resources;

• access to local and competitively priced sources of industrial rocks and building stones is essential to meeting New Zealand's continuing needs for building and roading infrastructure; and

• in addition, the recent interest in gold has resulted in a considerable increase in exploration acreage that will be explored using both proven and new technologies.

This bodes well for future mineral development and employment opportunities. The challenge therefore is to ensure that your industry recruits, trains and retains a workforce that can meet these ongoing demands.

© Scoop Media

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