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Skills initiative to boost Eastern Bay of Plenty

15 October 2004

Skills initiative to boost Eastern Bay of Plenty economy

A National Centre of Maintenance Engineering Excellence is being launched in the Eastern Bay of Plenty today by Economic Industry and Regional Development Minister, Jim Anderton.

"Lifting skill levels and addressing the major shortage of maintenance staff in the region is an essential element in removing barriers to economic development for the Eastern Bay of Plenty. That is why the Labour Progressive government is supporting the National Centre of Maintenance Engineering Excellence (NCME) with $2 million from the Regional Partnership Programme.

"The centre will play a key role in future economic growth by helping to lift manufacturing productivity levels and filling skills gaps in the region's processing industries.

"Forestry and dairy processing are the biggest employers and export earners for this region. Their international competitiveness is closely linked to their ability to source appropriate skills that can add value to what the region produces. By training workers with those skills the NCME will enable the region to compete at the international level," Jim Anderton said.

It is estimated that the centre has the potential to add $14 million in economic growth to the regional economy.

"This partnership between the community; education and industry training providers; the engineers union; infrastructure stakeholders; government and the industry itself, will enhance the region’s and New Zealand’s export base,” says Mr Anderton.

The Eastern Bay of Plenty will receive $2 million from New Zealand Trade and Enterprise’s Regional Partnership Programme for this Major Regional Initiative (MRI).

The industry commitment to this project is extensive also, including contributions of intellectual property, premises, project management and support, and training coordinators to an estimated value of $2.51 million.

The Kawerau Education and Training Trust (KETT), which includes founding partner Kawerau College, will work with Auckland University of Technology (AUT) to develop a National Centre of Maintenance Engineering Excellence (NCME) in a collaborative initiative backed by Norske Skog and Fonterra. The National Engineers Union is also a founding trustee.

The training centre is located at the Kawerau mill.

ENDS

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