Kawerau has opened a new driver and operator training centre for the Eastern Bay of Plenty, which aims to address the driver and other logistics skills shortages experienced in the area.
Toi EDA chair David Turner cut the ribbon, and the Reverend Graham Te Rire announced the name of the new facility, Te Ara Huringa ō Pupuwharau at the recent official opening.
“Toi EDA and local industry have long realised that workforce availability and transportation are key constraints to Eastern Bay economic growth,” said Turner.
“So we’ve got stuck in alongside industry and training providers to create a facility in Kawerau to serve wider Eastern Bay of Plenty people keen to upskill or work as drivers, machine operators and logistics personnel.”
Turner said Toi EDA had been working closely with central government to make the new centre a reality and was delighted with the support of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, through both Te Ara Mahi and He Poutama Rangatahi funds.
“This has also been an incredible collaborative effort and I’d really like to thank the work of the team at Toi EDA, in particular Barbara MacLennan and John Galbraith who have both worked incredibly hard to reach this milestone.
“Through the training, new cadetships, and mentoring programmes, we are helping enable workforce development.”
– David Turner
“I’d also like to acknowledge our training partners and Kawerau’s Pathway to Work partners. It really has been a team effort,” said Turner.
Toi EDA’s workforce development manager, Barbara MacLennan has been a key driver towards the opening of the facility.
“The facility is right in the heart of Kawerau’s industrial area, where growth is already well underway,” she said.
Partnering with three providers
Toi EDA has partnered with three training providers, Toi Ohomai, Axiom Training and Vertical Horizonz to start with, and together they are co-ordinating a wide range of training at the facility that matches what industry and businesses are looking for.
Programmes commenced in August and included training for drivers, machine operators, confined space, and a range of mobile equipment operators required in construction, agricultural and horticultural contracting work, said MacLennan.
Toi EDA research has been looking into the Eastern Bay’s detailed needs across businesses and industry and provides clear insight into current and future training needs, added Turner.
There was a huge shortage, particularly of drivers and business saw that shortage getting worse in the coming two to five years.
A recent survey by the Bay of Connections Freight and Logistics Group indicated that an additional 300-400 more drivers and mobile plant operators would be needed in the next two to five years.
“This facility is a way to help address that gap,” said Turner.
“Through the training, new cadetships, and mentoring programmes, we are helping enable workforce development. Te Ara Huringao ō Pupuwharau will create new opportunities for Eastern BoP people, and especially rangatahi, to step into current and emerging new roles.”