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John Tamihere: Smills & Training Building Business

Hon. John Tamihere
Smills and training building business

Speech to South Auckland Taxi Association and Manukau Transport Training Centre on skills and training.

Greyhound Function Centre, Manukau Sports Bowl, Te Irirangi Drive, Manukau City, Friday May 14, 8.15pm


It was during the Small Business Day at Manukau City in March that I heard the story of South Auckland Taxis and the Transport Training Centre. It was an inspirational story. We need to hear more of these stories.

So I would like to begin tonight by offering my congratulations to those of you who are part of that success story:

· Chris Ross and the sponsors, educators, administrators and helpers behind the Manukau Transport Training Centre.

· The graduate drivers who are tonight receiving the Certificate of Small Passenger Service.

· The families who I know will have pride in the achievement of their family members and friends graduating today.


Our education and literacy levels here in New Zealand are around the average for developed nations, however the difference between the top and bottom ends of our educational achievement is one of the largest in the world.

This government supports a range of initiatives that encourage participation in education by as many people as possible in our communities, whether that education and training takes place in schools, in tertiary education or in workplaces.

But these initiatives require energy and vision, and that is why we are so grateful for the contribution of people like Chris Ross and the team supporting the Manukau Transport Training Centre - the people who make the programmes come alive and deliver the results.

Even though we are now seeing strong economic and employment growth, we are experiencing skills shortages. In a way we are victims of our own success, with unemployment continuing to fall. Latest figures put the unemployment rate at 4.3 per cent. While low unemployment is fantastic in almost every way, it does make it harder for businesses to find the skilled people they need. Therefore, on-going skill development is crucial.

The main way we can fuel economic growth is through the development of the skills of our people. We want to keep people up-skilling throughout their working lives, to keep pace with changing business needs and opportunities. Our government has a skills strategy to make sure the labour market is well equipped to meet the current and future needs of our growing economy.


This government has placed a high priority on industry training, and has adopted a target of getting 150,000 New Zealanders learning on the job by the end of 2005. We are well on the way to achieving that target, as already there are 127,000 workers in industry training. Nearly 30,000 of those trainees are in the greater Auckland region.

The number of employers involved in the industry training programme has also increased substantially, with around 29,000 firms participating (up from around 25,000 in 2002).

Congratulations to the South Auckland Taxi Association for their innovation in creating their own private training establishment, qualifying staff as assessors and qualifying staff for the full national qualification.

The association will no doubt gain by having employees with better attitudes towards customer service, and business will grow as a direct result of increasing employee competencies. I am pleased to learn that all trainees who have completed the Light Motor Vehicle National Certificate Level 2 are also competent in the transport of disabled persons, which is incorporated into the qualification.

I would also like to acknowledge the support SATA received from the New Zealand Road Transport Industry Training Organisation, who assisted the organisation in the development of the private training establishment and gave them guidance on they way they should conduct the training programme.


It has been estimated that about a million New Zealanders have literacy skills below the level of competence required for modern living. It doesn't matter what sort of industry a business is in, having staff with basic literacy skills, keeping them up-to-date and obtaining new skills will help the organisation do things better. So one thing we have done to help address that very serious problem is to set up the Workplace Literacy Fund to help lift literacy levels.

Another government initiative is the Skills Action Plan which was launched in May 2002 and aims to:

- speed up the matching of people's skills to the job opportunities that are currently available; and

- reduce skill shortages in the future by helping people to make informed decisions about education and training.

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise also offers an Enterprise Training Programme to help upskill the owners/operators of small and medium-sized enterprises so that they can develop their businesses.


It has been fantastic to see the success of your organisation and training here tonight, and the celebration tonight is the result of inspiration and hard work. Workplace learning and education are vital to our growth as people, businesses and a community, and I congratulate you on your efforts.


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