Why a highly-skilled workforce is critical for success

Ensuring staff have the right skills now and in the future is vital for the sustainability, productivity and global competitiveness of New Zealand’s engineering industry.

Fiona Kingsford, chief executive of industry training organisation Competenz, says industrial changes, innovations and automation are changing the number and types of jobs in New Zealand and, more critically, the sort of knowledge and skills people in the industry need to develop.

“We know that unqualified and low-skilled positions are predicted to have the highest probability of replacement by computerisation or machines. It’s challenging to keep up with the changes, let alone anticipate the workforce requirements to respond.

“While employers may not be able to protect jobs from automation, we can collectively be responsible for protecting our people and preparing them for change through ongoing training and reskilling.”

Infometrics data shows that 23,553 people were employed in mechanical engineering sector in 2016, which is 1.8% higher than 2015. Of those, 4,904 were medium to high-skilled professionals, 18,445 were medium-skilled technicians and trades workers, and 205 were low-skilled labourers.

“Through our ongoing dialogue with businesses, there is concern within the mechanical engineering sector about the lack of team leaders and tradespeople who possess managerial skills,” Kingsford says. “This is highly-relevant to workforce development as research consistently highlights that there is a link between quality of management and the productivity of the business.”

Competenz works with more than 3,500 companies around New Zealand and more than 26,000 trainees and apprentices – 4,200 of those in the engineering sector.

“Working with so many engineering firms we gain valuable insight into the workforce challenges people are facing every day,” Kingsford says.

“Because we know the engineering industry really well, we can design workforce development solutions to help businesses realise both immediate and long-term gains.”

Recruit top talent at EMEX

Competenz is teaming up with the Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT) to match employers with keen young jobseekers at EMEX.

Engineering and manufacturing companies looking for new recruits will be paired up with secondary school pupils and students who have undertaken trades training at MIT. After a series of six-minute, one-on-one interviews, the employers and students each decide if they want to find out more about each other, and job opportunities may arise.

“If you’re looking for new staff, this is a great opportunity to meet talented and motivated young people ready to start their career,” Kingsford says.

Twelve of the engineering qualifications Competenz offers are eligible for the government’s new Fees-Free policy. This means the costs usually paid by employers, apprentices and trainees in the first two years will be now be free for some people.

Talk to Competenz at EMEX

• Competenz staff will be at EMEX to discuss apprenticeships, training and workforce development solutions. See them at the Employment and Training Hub.

• If you’re an employer looking to meet jobseekers at EMEX, register your interest today at www.competenz.org.nz.