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Government fails to tackle skills shortages

13 January 2012 MEDIA STATEMENT

Government fails to tackle skills shortages

Skills shortages in agricultural science --- where New Zealand should lead internationally in growing talent --- shows National still failing to recognise the need to develop a skills-based economy, says Labour’s Deputy Leader and Tertiary Education, Skills and Training spokesperson Grant Robertson.

“It is sad for New Zealand that the Labour Department has been obliged to add five agricultural science occupations to its long-term skills shortage list to enable easier entry to this country for migrants who can fill the gaps,” Grant Robertson said.

“To develop a clean, green economy, New Zealand must be an international leader in agriculture science.

“The failure to grow our skills base is not just happening in agriculture either,” Grant Robertson said.

“There is a growing and shameful skills shortage across many parts of the economy. The National Government would rather bring in migrant building skills for the rebuild of Canterbury, for example, than it would invest in our young people to give them the skills needed to do the job.

“Today’s commentary on the skills shortage in agricultural science comes in a week in which the Westpac-McDermott Miller Confidence Index has revealed that New Zealanders are more pessimistic now about the jobs market than they have been for two years,” Grant Robertson said.

“Kiwis can see what the National Government apparently cannot see --- that we need to invest in expertise and skills across the economy if we are to create growth and jobs.

“New Zealand desperately needs to invest in skills to develop the sort of economy that will allow us to have a prosperous future,” Grant Robertson said. “Importing skills from other countries is simply a short-term palliative, not a long-term answer.”

ends

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