MEActive - July 2017

12 July 2017

MEActive - July 2017

Welcome to the New Zealand Manufacturers and Exporters Association's monthly e-news, giving a series of updates on what we have been working on to make things better for manufacturers and exporters.

    • CEO Comment
    • NZMEA Events
    • Media Releases - Circulated to all media by the NZMEA.
    • Media Coverage - Where we have been reported over the past month.
    • NZ Manufacturer Magazine
    • Figure New Zealand Graph


CEO COMMENT:  Immigration and Skills Shortages

New Zealand manufacturers are facing skill shortages that hold them back from expanding their businesses. “I’ve just won the business of a major new customer overseas, and now I’m struggling to find the CNC operators I need to fulfil the orders”, as one said recently. The core component of addressing these over time is through the education system - working to make it responsive to current and future industry needs, while identifying and promoting where quality job opportunities lie in our productive industries. 

However, immigration also plays a vital role in filling the skill gaps that exist.  Recently, immigration has had a lot of air time in the run-up to the election, and it’s a good time to discuss the aspects of immigration policies and regulatory practices that really matter to the success of manufacturers and our productive industries. 

Immigration is a core component of addressing current skills shortages, especially where experience is required. For quite a while now, the number of workers with the right skills and experience in manufacturing has not been coming through our education system.  In addition to this, there is a generational issue, as an unusually high number of ‘baby boomers’ are leaving the workforce. These are also the people who were still trained under the NZCE scheme, abolished in 2000 and replaced by a mishmash of often inferior qualifications.  

We now need to work extra hard and creatively to present the opportunities manufacturing holds for younger generations. Work in manufacturing is exciting, it pays well and can put our youth in a position where they can be innovative and creative at their workplace every day. Contrary to some people’s expectations, careers in manufacturing will also be remarkably future-proof for those that keep themselves abreast with the increasing pace of product and process technology in manufacturing.

It is tempting for politicians in an election year to promise “looking at reducing overall immigration” when high net migration is putting pressure on infrastructure and services, especially in Auckland. A prudent government will review current immigration policies and practices and may want to tighten parts of the system – not at the cost, however, of throttling targeted immigration to fill current skill shortages in manufacturing and other parts of our productive economy.

On the contrary, targeted immigration policies and practices may well have to allow for an increase in numbers in the skilled work visa categories to alleviate current and near-future shortages – but it must do so in a directed way and not shying away, for example, from directing migrants to specific geographic regions where skills shortages now often appear to bite hardest.

Commonly, manufacturers are seeking trade workers with technical skills and relevant experience of 3 to 6 years.  They find it increasingly hard to fill these positions with domestic applicants, but also find the process of recruiting an immigrant is becoming more and more demanding. “In the past I used to be able to get someone through the process in one of two weeks, now it’s often the 12 to 16 weeks”, as one manufacturer said recently. 

Manufacturing is also facing competition for skills globally, with many other developed countries looking to hire skilled staff from around the world. 

The net effect of all this? Constraints on growing sales and pressures on margins as wage costs rise, sometimes quite dramatically. Overall wage inflation may be low, or so the economists tell us, but we hear about CNC operators being offered a 20% increase in hourly rates if they switch employers. There is not much manufacturers can do to stop the forces of supply and demand, especially in places like Auckland, where the cost of living has just sky-rocketed.

So, regardless of the changes that may be made to our immigration system, we cannot forget the role it plays in providing skills and talent into our productive industries. 

At the NZMEA, we continue to advocate for sensible immigration policies, as well as work with Immigration NZ to address issues that manufacturers are having with the current system, all in order to make sure current skill shortages can be met. At the same time improvements to our education system that will result in more Kiwis being equipped to work in the productive sectors of our economy will be one of our top thee political goals.

NZMEA EVENTS:
The events page on our website has more information on upcoming events. Click here to view our upcoming events or see below.

Universal Robots Seminar - Christchurch - Monday 31 July
The NZMEA is pleased to host a seminar on Universal Robots on Monday 31 July, led by two experts in this field:  Mike Shatford, founding director of Design Energy, and Andrew Pether, Universal Robots technical support at APAC and Universal Robots trainer.  A demonstration will follow, along with pizza and drinks.  Free to NZMEA members.  Click here for more information or to register.

Industry 4.0 Workshop - Wellington - Tuesday 4 August
Join the NZMEA for a light lunch in the Hutt Valley for this collaborative event with the Hutt Valley Chamber of Commerce.  Workshop presenters Dieter Adam of the NZMEA and Robert Blache of Callaghan Innovation will discuss their recent study tour to Germany, the Hannover Fair and what Industry 4.0 means to NZ manufacturers.  Click here for more information or to register.

NZMEA Hosts a Political Forum for Manufacturers - Christchurch - Monday 7 August
This unique political forum will focus on what the three major parties are putting forward in terms of policy plans for manufacturing and the wider economy coming up to the September election. Featuring Hon Steven Joyce, National MP and Minister for Finance and Infrastructure, Grant Robertson, Labour's Finance Spokesperson, and James Shaw, Co-Leader of the Green Party, there will also be a question and answer session, giving manufacturers the opportunity to directly ask questions.  Drinks and nibbles will follow the forum.  Click here for more information or to register.

Invitation to the August Leaders' Network - Auckland - Monday 21 August
NZMEA Members are invited to attend our special pre-election August Leaders' Network in Auckland. The guest speaker for August is Graeme Wheeler, Governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand.  Click here for more information or to register.

MEDIA RELEASES:
Media releases submitted by the NZMEA during June. Click here to read the latest media releases.

Date     

Title          

16 June

Get off the Grass

MEDIA COVERAGE:
Where the NZMEA have been reported over the past month.

04 June

Sunday News

Why do helpful robots have women’s names? Newspaper

04 June

Sunday Star-Times

Hello my name is Nadia. I’m an employee, but not as you know it. Newspaper

06 June

DEMM

Domestic manufacturing sales leading the way. Internet

12 June

Stuff.co.nz

Manufacturers calling for better marketing to lure in young talent. Internet

13 June

The Southland Times

Robot ‘cool’ factor vital to lure talent. Newspaper

13 June

Manawatu Standard

Robot ‘cool’ factor vital to lure talent. Newspaper

13 June

Nelson Mail

Robot ‘cool’ factor vital to lure talent. Newspaper

13 June

The Press

Robot ‘cool’ factor vital to lure talent. Newspaper

13 June

The Dominion Post

Robot ‘cool’ factor vital to lure talent. Newspaper

13 June

The Timaru Herald

Robot ‘cool’ factor vital to lure talent. Newspaper

13 June

Taranaki Daily News

Robot ‘cool’ factor vital to lure talent. Newspaper

13 June

Waikato Times

Robot ‘cool’ factor vital to lure talent. Newspaper

16 June

Scoop.co.nz

We need to produce more high-value goods and services. Internet

16 June

MSCNewsWire.co.nz

Get off the Grass – NZMEA. Internet

19 June

NZ Manufacturer

Budget 2017: Another missed opportunity to support our productive economy. Magazine


NZ MANUFACTURER MAGAZINE:
Click here to read the latest edition of NZ Manufacturer Magazine online for free.

FIGURE NZ GRAPH:

Anchor

The above graph shows the breakdown of work visa approvals over time by category.  The largest category is the working holiday schemes.  The smallest of these categories, however, is the essential skills visa category, which is a vital part of filling skill shortages. 

For more graphs related to manufacturing and exporting, as well a large collection of data on New Zealand presented in a simple visual way, visit www.figure.nz.