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Cullen: Graduation for Aquaculture Divers

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

12 July 2006 Speech Notes

Embargoed until: Wednesday 12 July 2006 at 9.30am

Address to Seafood Industry Training Organisation Inaugural Graduation Ceremony for Aquaculture Divers

King Salmon Ltd, Picton Wharf, Picton

It is a pleasure for me to be here today at this inaugural graduation ceremony for aquaculture divers.

The development of this qualification by the Seafood Industry Training Organisation is an excellent example of the responsiveness the government expects from ITOs.

It is a qualification that is industry-driven, practically focused and highly relevant to an industry that is playing a key role in the expansion of New Zealand’s economy, and particularly our high-value export sector.

The qualification is the result of a collaborative multi-agency approach, and uses best practice guidelines endorsed by Occupational Safety and Health. It is part of a larger strategy of building knowledge in an increasingly sophisticated seafood sector.

I want to congratulate those who are graduating today on the effort you have put into your studies. You are equipping yourselves with valuable knowledge and skills to make a contribution to a seafood industry that is New Zealand’s fourth highest export earner.

Our host today, the New Zealand King Salmon Company, exemplifies the promise of the industry. The company has four marine farms producing five thousand metric tonnes of salmon every year for both the domestic and export markets. Opportunities for expansion are numerous, so long as the industry can increase its capacity, with workforce development being an important challenge.

The operating environment for the seafood industry is becoming more complex, both economically and technologically. As a result, the industry needs to develop a much higher overall skill level in its workforce. There is increasing demand for marine engineers, divers, scientists, food technologists, logistics flow managers and related roles in the industry.

Seafood employers, through the Seafood ITO, are refocusing training to meet changing skill requirements in the industry. Indeed, it is a key strength of the Industry Training system is that it can quickly re-calibrate itself to best meet the needs of industry and trainees.

The aquaculture diving qualification is a good example of that. In late 2003, the aquaculture industry requested support from the Seafood ITO regarding qualifications for their commercial farm divers. By December 2005, the first New Zealand competency-based qualification specific to diving risks associated with aquaculture was registered with the New Zealand Qualifications Authority.

That is a very fast turnaround, given the steps that are necessary to confirm a complex qualification in an industry with a diverse range of stakeholders.

More broadly, ITOs have a pivotal role to play in the future of tertiary education. They are key to ensuring the tertiary education sector remains relevant to the needs of employers and delivers a quality product.

Essentially what the government is after is results – and of course, that is what we are here to celebrate today.
I wish all the graduates here today all the best for their personal and professional futures.

Congratulations to you all – and to your employers and the ITO who have supported you to achieve your qualification.

You should all be proud of your achievement.


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