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Burton: Tourism Workforce and Skills

4 November 2004 Speech

Hon Mark Burton Thursday 4 November Release of Tourism Workforce and Skills Projections Report

Good evening

I am delighted to be here tonight, to celebrate this watershed in tourism labour force planning.

This is the first time that the industry has collectively looked at its labour and skills needs so comprehensively, and so strategically—a forward looking step that many of New Zealand’s industries would do well to emulate.

The need for this work was highlighted in the New Zealand Tourism Strategy 2010. The launch of this report is yet another example of Strategy implementation, underscoring the Strategy’s place as a valuable tool in securing the industry’s long-term, sustainable future.

I’d like to acknowledge the industry’s leadership in undertaking this project. TIANZ have brought together and led a strong team of partners, including the Hospitality Association of New Zealand, the Aviation Travel and Tourism Training Organisation, the Hospitality Standards Institute and, of course, the Ministry of Tourism.

I was pleased to assist the project with funds, to support the investment made by the industry.

Industry training organisations play a crucial skills leadership role for their respective industries. It’s great to see tourism benefiting from ATTTO and HSI’s serious commitment to this role.

I’d also like to acknowledge the valuable work of accommodation providers, transport operators, hospitality operators, travel businesses, tour operators, and the many other industry players who gave this project their time and consideration.

This report raises some very important issues for us all.

The good news is that the growth of the tourism industry will lead to an additional 31,450 jobs by the year 2010—an average of 4½ thousand per year.

Clearly, the tourism industry will continue its role as one of the most significant employers of New Zealand workers.

But filling these jobs will be a challenge. Growth in new tourism jobs is forecast to exceed the average growth in jobs across the economy, meaning that the tourism sector is simply going to have to be better than others—both at recruiting the right people and retaining them.

Building a truly sustainable, quality tourism industry for New Zealand, means developing long-term, sustainable, quality jobs—a key challenge for all of us in the sector.

That’s why it’s so encouraging to see in this report that employers are reporting that off-peak seasonal periods are getting busier—fundamental to achieving a reduction in employment seasonality. And of course, these workforce growth projections mean even more career opportunities ahead in the tourism industry.

Our people are the ones we count on to make that good impression, to be knowledgeable and competent, to go above and beyond in meeting customers’ needs—and to deliver on the promise of a high quality visitor experience. Tourism is a people industry—this report clearly highlights that. Transferable skills and attributes such as quality customer service, effective communication, cultural awareness, and selling skills remain at the heart of the industry. They are in the highest demand now, and will be even more so in the future.

The need to further improve these personal and tourism technical skill levels, and to find people with the right personal attributes—all these issues pose challenges to employers and training providers alike.

The Tourism Workforce and Skills Projections Report is a snapshot taken now but looking to the future. The issues and numbers identified in this report will not arrive all at once.

But the work does need to start now. The value of this report is that it allows for strategic planning rather than simply being reactive. The industry needs to implement the recommendations and develop work-plans in response to this report.

In the first instance, the task of developing appropriate action plans falls to the different sectors of the industry. I encourage you all to involve a range of organisations in finding solutions—including employers, employees, ITOs, and training providers—and then take action.

I encourage you all to look at the industry-wide picture, too. Many issues are common across sectors and may well be best addressed in partnership with others.

And of course, cross-sector coordination can also enhance partnership with government agencies such as the Department of Labour, the Tertiary Education Commission, the Ministry of Social Development, and the Careers Service.

I also encourage the industry to continue to address workforce and skills issues in a strategic way, to update this report and to come together soon to review progress. Only a long-term strategic perspective will enable us to see what lies ahead.

We have had another bumper season. If we are truly committed to industry sustainability—and I am confident that we all are—we simply must reinvest in our people, our products, and our infrastructure.

This may well pose some fundamental questions such as price structure in some parts of the industry. Equally it should be said that in order to reinvest in our industry, we must price accordingly.

If our goal is to continue to offer innovative, high quality products and services that live up to New Zealand’s reputation as a premiere inbound and domestic destination—and it must be!—then we must find the right solutions to the ongoing issues this premiere industry faces.

Given the leadership the tourism industry has shown in recognising the real workforce and skills issues outlined in the report we are celebrating tonight, I have every confidence that you will do exactly that.


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