Manufacturers need better access to talent and training

New Zealand manufacturers need a more coherent vocational education and training system, according to ManufacturingNZ executive director Catherine Beard.

ManufacturingNZ’s Election Manifesto highlights the need for greater emphasis on the supply of high-quality and responsive vocational education and training services.

Beard says, in a media release, that a pipeline of skilled and qualified workers is all critical to New Zealand’s Covid-19 recovery, but many are struggling to get into the country.

“Covid-19 is demonstrating the important role immigration policy plays to ease critical skills gaps, so New Zealand needs a plan on how to safely access the global talent it needs to supplement domestic labour supply.”

Beard says manufacturers are also seeking a risk-based approach to operating safely in the event of any further outbreaks or lockdowns, based on a Covid-19 operational health and safety plan.

“Definitions of ‘essential’ and ‘non-essential’ businesses should be done away with and the judgement instead be on the ability to operate in a Covid-19-safe way.”

This year’s manifesto also urges the incoming government to make on-going investments in science and innovation, which in New Zealand remains low compared to the OECD average.

“The government needs to be investing in R&D and infrastructure to ensure New Zealand manufacturers can compete and excel on the global stage.

“New Zealand should look at what other countries are doing to support a transition to modern manufacturing. Australia, for example, has a Manufacturing Modernisation Fund, which co-funds manufacturers to invest in new technologies and upskill their workforce.”

Finally, Beard says it is important that Kiwi firms have a fair and equal opportunity to win tenders in local supply chains and this would be facilitated by large government tenders placing greater emphasis on the economic, social and environmental impact of their purchasing.

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