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Bay of Plenty Region
Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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Priority One: Talented women leading Bay of Plenty priorities

There is considerable purpose-led economic development work being accomplished throughout the region by Priority One, the Western Bay of Plenty’s economic development agency. The talented team have clear priorities; to drive an economy underpinned by skilled talent, innovation, and sustainability.

Priority One provides the tools, develops connections, and delivers on an economic strategy to lift the prosperity of people within the region. The team collaborate with local businesses and communities to implement key projects, many of which are led by several remarkable women who are leading the charge across various strategic work areas including sustainability, education, and talent.

One of those women is Marissa Nikora, sustainability lead at Priority One. A strong sustainability position is essential for the Western Bay of Plenty economy to remain competitive.

By understanding the challenges in this space, Marissa is leading the educating and influencing of businesses to reduce carbon emissions and waste. With the support of the team, she is undertaking projects to deliver large scale impact on environmental, social, and economic sustainability across the region.

Marissa Nikora, Melissa Gillingham, Meg Davis, Mary Stewart, Vee de Koster.

“It’s fantastic to see so many local business leaders committed to sustainability. However, we acknowledge it can be a challenging space. Climate change will have an impact on virtually every business in the region, so it’s essential we work together on a good plan to safeguard the sustainability of our environment, our people, and the economy,” says Marissa.

With Tauranga continuing to experience significant population and job growth, an ongoing challenge is the social sustainability of accessing the talent needed to fuel local business. Priority One takes a leadership role in bridging the existing skills gap in the workforce and preparing the region for future demands.

To ensure employers can find the talent they need, a multi-pronged approach is being delivered by Priority One to support education, grow existing talent and to attract targeted skills to the gaps.

Vee de Koster leads Priority One’s INSTEP programme as Instep Manager and plays a key role in the education space by supporting local schools and students to understand future pathways and career options.

Vee and her team connect schools and students with local businesses, and provide information, pathways, and leadership opportunities that inspire youth about the future work opportunities that exist across Tauranga Moana. Their work continues to help students develop the work ready skills that local employers are looking for in talent.

“An important emphasis for our team is to become a valuable resource to youth and local schools, and ensure we highlight the many opportunities that are here on their doorstep,” says Vee.

From an education perspective, the Tauranga region is an attractive study destination for international students who are supported by Melissa Gillingham, the Regional Relationship Manager for Education Tauranga, which partners with Priority One to position the region as a high-quality study destination for the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors. Melissa is dedicated to ensuring the value of international education continues across the region.

“Our international student community provide rich experiences for local students to learn from and engage with different cultures, as well as helping local people make life-long connections with people and markets overseas,” says Melissa.
Another committed woman is Workforce Project Manager Meg Davis, who continues to lead in the talent space and delivers strategic projects to attract skilled talent and enable cross-sector collaboration to grow and retain local talent.

“Getting Tauranga Moana into the hearts and minds of local people and those from outside the region, is essential in ensuring we have a sustainable talent pipeline so the city, our people and businesses can prosper,” says Meg.

The Priority One team do this through the delivery of initiatives like the Young Innovators Awards yia! – helping create tomorrow’s innovators, collaborative Talent Action Plans which address the needs of specific industries, and the Future of Work programme.

The Future of Work programme is focused on creating engagement and education opportunities to connect, inform, and upskill local businesses on talent-related matters.

The soon to be launched Work Life Tauranga online hub, is also being led by Meg with the support of the team and will present Tauranga as a magnet city to support the needs and attraction of domestic and international talent here locally.

Meanwhile, supporting local people to overcome potential barriers that may impact on their ability to participate in the local labour market, is the role of Priority One’s Ara Rau skills and employment hub, led by Operations Manager Mary Stewart.

Mary and her team are dedicated to helping people overcome any barriers and become work ready. As a skills and employment hub, Ara Rau’s focus is to prioritise those ‘Not in Education or Employment’ (NEETs) by creating customised training and work pathways and helping local employers to develop positive relationships for long-term success.

The passionate Priority One team work together to drive the many multifaceted projects and initiatives they deliver for the region.

The team have unashamedly lofty goals, and the hard mahi all these women and the wider team contribute to, aims to create positive change and an inclusive, empowering employment culture ensuring a sustainably prosperous region for generations to come.

For more information on Priority One and the strategic projects being delivered across the Western Bay of Plenty, visit www.priorityone.co.nz or call the team on 07 571 1401.

By Melissa Mae

Related: Priority One: Transformation set for Tauranga

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