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Jobs on track from new rail industry partnership

3 December 2004

Jobs on track from new rail industry partnership

Meeting skills gaps in the rail industry is the impetus behind a new jobs partnership announced today by Social Development and Employment Minister Steve Maharey.

Initially the partnership will see 75 unemployed people trained in track maintenance in Auckland, the central North Island, Canterbury and Greymouth, with training expanded to other regions next year.

The partnership is between Work and Income and Transfield Services, the primary rail infrastructure services provider to New Zealand Railways.

Job seekers will take part in New Zealand Qualifications Authority accredited courses, which will deliver a mix of theory and practical experience in introductory, intermediate and advanced track maintenance.

Steve Maharey said the partnership was a very practical response to the biggest business risk Transfield Services faces – an ageing workforce.

“Transfield’s 450 maintenance workers have an average age of 47, and the industry needs an injection of youth and energy.

“Developing a skilled workforce is essential for a vibrant economy and job partnerships with industry are a key part of the government’s commitment to get New Zealanders working. Employers need skilled workers to be able to grow their businesses, expand the economy and create more opportunities for employment."

The rail industry partnership, part of the Jobs Jolt scheme, is the eighth such agreement between Work and Income and industry. Others include hospitality, retail, plumbing, roading, national road carriers, the meat industry and the bus and coach association.

Ray Smith, Deputy Chief Executive of Work and Income, said the partnership programme was a critical initiative to help thousands of New Zealanders achieve economic independence through work.

“We are committed to growing a vibrant and dynamic economy that provides opportunities for all New Zealanders to build a better life,” Ray Smith said “This partnership between Work and Income and Transfield Services is a key platform to achieving that aim.”

Tony Fisher, general manager of Transfield Services, said the partnership would provide enormous benefits in terms of upskilling and growing the rail industry.

"Work and Income has talked to the industry to find out what is needed and they are focused on demand-led placement of people,” Tony Fisher said

“Not only are they committed to placing people in jobs but they are actively working for the employer. This makes it an extremely effective partnership for Transfield Services.”

ENDS

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