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Presentation of HANZ Training Passport

Hon Dr Michael Cullen
Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance, Minister for Tertiary Education, Leader of the House

7 March 2006 Speech Notes


Presentation of HANZ Training Passport


The Malthouse, 47 Willis St, Wellington

It is a great pleasure for me to be able to present the first HANZ Training Passport.

If the concept behind the pilot programme catches on, we will start to see over time a higher general level of skill in the hospitality workforce. This in turn will mean increased productivity, better compliance with health and safety standards, and better workforce retention.

The hospitality industry is also an important shop front for tourism. One can guarantee that any tourist visiting New Zealand will have several encounters with hospitality industry workers (several ‘moments of truth’ in the management jargon) each day of their stay. That probably puts hospitality workers second only the scenery in terms of the impressions our visitors take away with them.

The passport concept is an innovative response to a challenging set of labour market conditions. The hospitality industry needs to grow its workforce by around 3,000 people per annum, and since 6,000 people move out of the workforce each year, that means finding around 9,000 new workers per annum. These are often young people, who have no intention of making a long-term career in the industry.

Ensuring basic levels of training is therefore a challenge, especially since so many employers are small to medium sized businesses who find it hard to invest in on-the-job training and are reluctant to release staff for some of the more traditional training courses offered through the hospitality sector ITO, the Hospitality Standards Institute. That challenge is even greater during a period when we have a very tight labour market, and the industry as a whole is seeking to tap into new pools of labour, such as international students, beneficiaries and sole parents. Often these people come with gaps in their skills, and employers need to have convenient ways of plugging those gaps.

Hence the sense in offering important basic skills in ‘bite-sized’ chunks. The areas covered in the first training passport address some important areas of competency for hospitality workers, and providing workers with a good platform of skills in these areas will help manage some important areas of risk and compliance.

What has yet to be ascertained is how effective the passport concept is at attracting more workers to stay in the industry and contemplate further training and explore career options. Even a small shift towards a more stable, more productive workforce will go a long way towards addressing what is the most pressing set of management issues for many employers in the industry.

So this morning I would like first of all to congratulate Colin Mallon, and I am sure all of you would hope he will be the first of many passport holders. I would also like to acknowledge the leadership of Bruce Robertson and of the Hospitality Standards Institute in developing an innovative approach to a long standing issue.

As a minister with an interest both in the economy and in the education and training system, I can say that this is exactly the kind of ‘outside the square’ thinking that we will increasingly need. This is training that is tailored to the Ipod generation, and I believe it will find an important niche in the overall process of upskilling New Zealand’s workforce.

Thank you.

ENDS

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