Regional Workforce Initiative launched

A detailed labour market survey across five industry sectors has identified the need for local businesses to be more actively engaged between industry sectors to tackle workforce issues head on.

The survey was identified as a priority for the South Canterbury region at a meeting held by the Mayors of Timaru, Mackenzie and Waimate. Mayor Damon Odey was tasked with putting a proposal together and sought support from Ministry of Social Development (MSD), which agreed to fund the project, as they could also see the constraints our growing economy was facing around the skills shortage.  The project was managed by Ginny Vincent from Skillz Solutionz Ltd and is now the foundation of a South Canterbury-wide Workforce Initiative launched today by Aoraki Development.  It highlighted the need for:

  • Improved management of skills shortages by identifying seasonal demands, utilising transferable skills and increasing the pool of workers available
  • Enhancing the connection between businesses and secondary & tertiary providers to better inform our youth of local career opportunities and pathways for further education.
  • Understanding and addressing businesses training and development needs via improved communication with, and knowledge of, all local training providers’ and staffing companies’ offerings.
  • Recognition of the skills and knowledge of those in our workforce who are at or near retirement age and how business and community organisations can better utilise this resource

“We will be facilitating the establishment of Business Connection Groups (BCG’s) to proactively address the key issues highlighted in the report,” says Aoraki Development Chief Executive Nigel Davenport.

“Businesses, schools, tertiary providers and associated organisations already have existing relationships with each other at varying levels and this initiative will only compliment and enhance these further” says Davenport. “From exposing and educating our youth at an early age to local industry sectors and further education opportunities thus positioning them to make better and more fully informed decisions on their futures through to businesses actively collaborating on staffing and training requirements, this initiative is a key step to addressing identified workforce skills shortages”.

“We have been thrilled with the enthusiasm of the businesses, schools and training providers engaged with to date and look forward to getting the initiative under way and involving as many others as soon as we can” said Davenport. “The determination and commitment is very evident in all those spoken to, now it’s up to us all to collectively make things happen. As the saying goes “if nothing changes then nothing changes” and that’s not good enough when it comes to the future of our Region”.

In tandem with this initiative is the important project of “telling Timaru’s story” so that families outside of Timaru are better informed as to what makes the Timaru District THE Place to Live and Do Business. “Getting this right is such key piece to attracting new families and businesses to the District and our aim is to get this completed asap” says Davenport.

Mayor Damon Odey says: The Timaru District, has extremely low unemployment numbers, strong economic growth and development happening from existing sectors and continues to attract new business ventures.

In order for our district to keep up with this demand, we must understand industry needs for their required Labour skills and then work to retain our youth, attract new workers and their families to our district and look to utilise high value skills from our ageing workforce, these three areas will add so much more to our district than just economic growth, it increases our communities diversity, creates better social linkages and creates a vibrant district for us to not only work, but enjoy a lifestyle second to none.

Fonterra Operations Manager Steve McKnight says: Fonterra is excited by this opportunity to support the economic growth of the region helping to make this community thrive. It’s awesome to see South Canterbury acting on the feedback from the survey and we’re looking forward to continue to build a deeper connection across our community. This initiative will provide a vibrant, diverse platform to help develop our future generation, those returning to the district and attracting new families to the region.

Temuka Transport Director and General Manager Garry Aitken says: There are multiple organisations that now have the opportunity to combine all of their strengths and provide the focus that South Canterbury requires. What I like about this is that it has very good balance in its commencement; there are very strong leadership qualities consistently backed with an array of positive view points from the entire South Canterbury region. A chance to provide the current and next generations with a better platform for appreciating and enjoying our fantastic area.

YMCA Timaru General Manager Keith Shaw says “We need to ensure young people have a sense of belonging and connectedness to our community, to be able to meaningfully contribute to the greater life of the district and have a clear view of the opportunities that exist for them here.  This District wide workforce initiative takes a coordinated approach to #makingithappen”.

“YMCA over the last 3 years, through its Investing in Youth and Work Inspirations projects, has endeavored to strengthen pathways and relationships between young people and local employers to ensure the Timaru District is a great place for young people to live, work, study and play”

“We need to acknowledge that going to university or moving away from the district are not the only options for young people.  Local employment opportunities provide many of our young people with a long term career pathway, right here within the Timaru District.  We all have a role to play, in coming together to ensure we have the skills and resources necessary here locally to meet increasing demands.  YMCA is committed to playing its part in seeing this workforce initiative succeed”

Timaru Boys High Rector Nick McIvor says - ‘This initiative gives our secondary schools a way to adapt student learning and qualifications more directly to what local employers really need.  Through it, employers in the District can inform where young people should focus; with stronger links formed between schools and employers and tertiary providers, as well.  It promises good regional growth as more school leavers connect to targeted training and employment opportunities.  The appeal of working in South Canterbury was already high, whether working here immediately or further down the line, now it will be lifted even higher for young people.’