Education & Training: The changing face of NZ’s workforce

Speaking to the Institute of Directors’ conference delegates in Auckland last month, Sir Mark Solomon, Kaiwhakahaere (chairman) of iwi authority Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu, pointed out that there is one statistic more than any other that will impact New Zealand’s future prosperity. And that is, by 2050 the majority of the tax-paying workforce will be Maori, Pasifika and Asian.
By that date, he said, around 50 percent of all Pakeha New Zealanders will be aged 65 or older.
In 1951, Maori made up just seven percent of the population. That increased to 14.5 percent in 2006 and by 2026, that figure is expected to jump to 17 percent. And according to the Department of Statistics, Maori, Asian and Pacific Island people will make up 42 percent of New Zealand’s population by 2026.
“But think about this,” challenged Sir Mark, “around 54 percent of Maori boys and 58 percent of Pasifika are leaving school without qualification. Absolutely none. And these are some of the youth who will need to be earning the money that pays the rest of the country’s health care and superannuation in future years.”

Sir Mark gave examples of companies taking initiatives to offer opportunities to young Maori. Aurecon – provider of engineering, management and specialist technical services – approached Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu last year to offer cadetship programme to provide career opportunities for young Maori within the engineering industry. And Hawkins Construction is partnering with iwi in Christchurch through the apprenticeship programme He Toki ki te Rika (see panel story).
In conversation last year with NZ Management magazine, Sir Mark pointed out that this is not just an issue for Maori or Pasifika. “This is an issue for all of us. We have to lift the returns from the education system in this nation. We’ve got to lift our earning capacity and that’s all about education. You can’t have first world nation – especially with an aging population – with falling tax base.

“What I’m saying to our kids is that the minimum we can accept from you is trade; that’s your start. But once you’ve got your ticket stay on the waka with us, because we want to train you to be the supervisor. And once you’ve become the supervisor don’t get off the waka because we want you to become the engineer. And once you become the engineer, don’t get off the waka, stay with us because we want you to become the city planner. We want you to get involved with your tribe in lifetime learning programme.”

Young Maori, he said, should lift their sights to achieve as professionals and leaders in order to take the entire country forward. “We want many of them to become our future business leaders.”
Pre-trades training is not just for Ngai Tahu it’s for all Maori. Tribes from all over the country have got their kids doing the programmes in the polytechnics.
Sir Mark blames the industries for the skilled labour shortage. “They walked away from the old trade training programmes. And now that we’ve got huge shortage in our nation of tradesmen, we’ve got to crisis point where we’re talking about bringing in labour from Ireland to do the rebuild in Christchurch.

“What I think the earthquake has done in Canterbury has given us an opportunity to recreate those trade training hubs; to develop another generation of tradespeople. This rebuild is going to take 20 to 30 years so hopefully we’ve got 20 to 30 years of training trades people.”
Sir Mark would like to see CERA (the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority) introduce requirement that any company coming into Canterbury for the rebuild should offer apprenticeships. “There should be no unemployed in Canterbury during this rebuild. If there are it’s either because they don’t want to work or because the companies have missed golden opportunity to train whole generation.” M


More Maori for trades training
Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT), Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu and Hawkins Construction hosted Maori trades open evening at CPIT’s Trades Innovation Institute last month to encourage more Maori to learn the skills they need to contribute to the rebuild of Christchurch.
The Maori trades training programme He Toki ki te Rika combines the expertise of iwi, tertiary training and industry to build Maori capacity in the trades industry.
Sir Mark Solomon, patron of the programme, was guest speaker. “We have worked with tertiary and industry to create and deliver course that specifically caters to Maori. He Toki is start for whanau wanting to step up and take advantage of the job opportunities arising from the rebuild.
“Billions of dollars will be spent on the rebuild and Maori need to be part of the group who benefit. We want these students to go on to become the supervisors, the project managers, the foremen. He Toki is about leadership.”

Thanks to $1 million boost from Government late last year, He Toki scholarships have been created to provide full fee support, help with work placement, $1000 apprenticeship grant and dedicated resource to continue the development of He Toki students after they leave CPIT.
Since He Toki was launched in June 2010, more than 150 Maori have completed the course; 92 of those students are now employed and most of the remainder have enrolled in further training. Another 71 students enrolled in January and further 80 places are available for the May intake. The courses are 12 to 20 week pre-trade programmes in carpentry, painting and decorating, plasterboard, plumbing and drain laying. The students are taught at CPIT’s Trades and Innovation campus and learn in cultural environment, which involves tikanga and use of te reo. He Toki students also complete the work readiness passport, programme developed by Hawkins Construction to get students ready for the industry.

Hawkins Construction South Island manager Steve Taw says it is extremely satisfying to be part of programme which provides direct benefit to the local community and iwi.
“The benefit of this approach is that we all work together to widen the potential labour pool for the local construction industry, which can only be good for the regional rebuild.”

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