MEActive - January 2016

21 January 2016

CEO COMMENT: New Year - Trip to Germany

Happy New Year to all, I hope you all had some time for rest and family over the Christmas break, and are ready for another big year.

This week I arrived back from a trip to Germany, visiting family and friends.  I also took the opportunity to meet with some industry organisations and manufacturing businesses in the South to see what opportunities there are for establishing relationships between manufacturers in Southern Germany and our members. As many of you will be aware, Germany’s large manufacturing sector is concentrated in the South (Baden-Wuerttemberg and Bavaria) and while many of Germany’s large, well-known companies like Bosch, Siemens and major car companies have their headquarters there, the sector is still characterised by thousands of (mostly family-owned) SMEs. Most of the latter operate in similar product and service areas to our members and pride themselves of similar virtues – being innovative, agile and responsive on the basis of high-quality product lines. I am convinced that creating connections between our members and similar manufacturers there could provide opportunities to learn from each other and might even create new business for our members in some cases.

I met with the Chief Executive of the Bavarian Employers’ Associations for the Metalworking and Electrical Industries (Bayme-VBM), which represents around 2600 manufacturers, as well as a senior representative of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Stuttgart Region.

We discussed the idea of developing connections between our organisations with the aim of connecting New Zealand manufacturers with their members, to share ideas and learn from each other.  They were very open to supporting such an exchange and offered to organise events where their members meet ours. The challenge is now on us to see what support there is within the NZMEA for such an approach. 

It was interesting to see how these organisations operated to provide value for their members.  Despite having larger scale due to the size of their sectors, we shared a lot of common ground in the work we do in terms of services and priorities. The one major difference is that in Germany organisations like BayMe-VBM also, and quite importantly, represent their members in wage negotiations with the trade unions that still play a big role in these industries. That helps to explain why 88% of manufacturers in their field are members of the organisation.

During my discussions with these organisations and manufacturers, the similarities and differences between German and New Zealand manufacturers started to become a bit clearer – there is definitely room to learn from each others’ strong points. 

German SME manufacturers tend to have a larger focus on dominating a highly specific niche. One company I visited, for example, makes automatic loading and unloading systems for high-throughput lathes. Unlike most of our members, however, they are strongly focused on the huge domestic market, then the EU, and beyond that North America, with much less interest in or knowledge of exporting into other parts of the world.  There is perhaps something New Zealand manufacturers could teach them about getting out into wider markets, particularly Asia. 

Part of what allows them to take this approach is the strength of the German manufacturing sector, which contributes close to 30% to the GDP of Baden Wuerttemberg and Bavaria. The figure for all of Germany is 23%; more than double that of New Zealand. This creates an eco-system of highly interconnected short supply chains and sustains a large and talented workforce.  While manufacturing still provides much to the New Zealand economy, we do lag behind in reaching critical mass for having such an effective eco-system of manufacturers.  However this is an area we can work to improve together – an explicit government appreciation and focus on this would no doubt help.


Submission:  Open for Comment:  Free Trade Agreement with the European Union
MFAT have announced that they will be starting negotiations towards a Free Trade Agreement with the EU in early 2016.   The deadline for comment to public submissions for the FTA is 29 February 2016.

For the NZMEA to make a submission to this FTA we need comment from companies who have an interest in the EU markets as to what this will mean for your company (good and/or bad), specificially in the areas of:

Any other comments you wish to make would be welcome.  Please email your feedback to

Essential Skills in Demand - Metal Fabricators /Sheetmetal Trades
The NZMEA would like to thank those companies who supported our application to have Metal Fabricators/Welders (code 322311) listed as a skill shortage during the Essential Skills in Demand Review.   Your support in providing evidence and feedback was vital.   The occupation of Sheetmetal Trades Workers has also been added to the Immediate Skills in Demand List.   Click here to read the updates from Immigration New Zealand.

Cross-Cultural Internships - Engineering Trainees
The NZMEA has been approached by CFAI based in Bordeaux, France. CFAI who provide training for industrial engineers. They have a number of students seeking internships in New Zealand and have approached the NZMEA for assistance in placing the trainees during the European summer 2016 (between end of June and August).

These apprentice engineers are in the first or second year of their engineering diploma and they must complete an internship programme in order to graduate.  The students' skills range from production and maintenance, to networks and information systems engineers, material engineers, electronic embedded systems and structural calculations.

The trainees will have their salary covered by the French company that currently employs them. There is no cost to the participating New Zealand company, although a contribution in regards to accommodation or transport would be appreciated, but optional.

If you are interested in particpating in this programme contact the NZMEA for more information.

Reminder:  New Health and Safety Law from April 2016
The new Health and Safety at Work Act comes into force on April 4 2016.   WorkSafe New Zealand will be producing a range of information and guidance material to help businesses and workers understand the new law and regulations. You can access information about the general provisions of new Act on the WorkSafe website.

R&D Grant Criteria Changes
Callaghan Innovation have advised of upcoming changes to the criteria for assessing research and development (R&D) grants proposals and of the improvements being made to the  R&D grants processes to make the application process easier for businesses. Click here for a summary of the changes.

Callaghan Innovation is also  making improvements to their R&D grants processes to make the grant application process easier for businesses. These changes include:

The changes took effect on 7 December 2015 for all new applications.  Businesses that are currently applying for a R&D grant with Callaghan may be affected by these changes – please contact your account manager to discuss your options.  Current R&D Grant contracts will not be affected by the criteria changes.    If you are thinking about starting a new application for an R&D grant – click here to contact Callaghan Innovation.


The events page on our website has more information on upcoming events. Click here to view our interactive calendar.

15 February Invitation to Leaders' Network with RBNZ Deputy Governor, Geoff Bascand, Christchurch - Member only session.
26 February Programme:  CPIM - Master Planning of Resources, Christchurch.

Health & Safety Representative  Training 2016
WorkSafe New Zealand have contracted Safety’n’Action to present Health & Safety Representative (HSR) transition training to commence in 2016.  This training programme is free and will be available for HSRs who have already trained for their HSR role under the current Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992. The HSR must have completed an approved HSR training course to at least Stage 1  (or equivalent). 

HSRs can register for the training through Safety’n’Action.  As they build registrations they will confirm the face-to-face course locations to match the locations of those registering.  Upon registration Safety’n’Action will be in direct contact with more specific details about the training as these become available.  Click here to register.

2016 Hi-Tech Awards
Entries to the 2016 Hi-Tech Awards close on Monday 7 March - there is still time to enter. Click here to find out more about this years event and to register.


Where the NZMEA have been reported over the past month.

6 November NZ Manufacturer Conditions remain volatile for manufacturers. Magazine.
6 November Conditions remain volatile for manufacturers. Internet.
6 November Conditions remain volatile for manufacturers – NZMEA. Internet.
6 November Conditions remain volatile for manufacturers. Internet.
6 November Conditions remain volatile for manufacturers. Internet.
16 November ASB forecasts OCR cut, falling dollar as growth outlook weakens. Internet.
16 November The Nelson Mail Economy set to slow bank says. Newspaper.
16 November The Marlborough Express Economy set to slow bank says. Newspaper
25 November NZ Manufacturer Managing in-market representation for manufacturers and exporters. Magazine.
1 December NZ Engineering News Annual Directory – Dieter Adam profile. Magazine.
1 December NZ Engineering News Annual Directory – NZMEA profile. Magazine.
4 December Market conditions still a challenge. Internet.
4 December NZ Manufacturer Market conditions still a challenge. Internet.
4 December Market conditions still a challenge – NZMEA. Internet.
8 December Manufacturing shows growth.  Internet.
9 December NZ Manufacturer Manufacturing shows growth.  Internet.
14 December Climate deal presents opportunities for manufacturers – NZMEA. Internet.
14 December Climate deal presents opportunities for manufacturers – NZMEA. Internet.
14 December Climate deal presents opportunities for manufacturers – NZMEA. Internet.
17 December Manufacturing growth helps pick up the slack – NZMEA. Internet.
17 December Manufacturing growth helps pick up the slack – NZMEA. Internet.
17 December Manufacturing growth helps pick up the slack – NZMEA. Internet.
17 December NZ Manufacturer Meeting the needs of manufacturers. Magazine.
30 December NZ Manufacturer Meeting the needs of manufacturers. Internet.


Media releases submitted by the NZMEA during November and December 2015.  Click here to read the latest media releases.

6 November Conditions remain volatle for manufacturers.
4 December Market conditions still a challenge.
8 December Manufacturing shows growth.
14 December Climate deal presents opportunities for manufacturers.
17 December Manufacturing growth helps pick up the slack.


The following are the MEAssists that were circulated during Between November 2015 and January 2016. The MEAssist programme is a free service for members, where companies ask for guidance and responders share experiences and offer feedback (please note this is not a selling service).  Contact the NZMEA for more information.


You can read the latest edition of NZ Manufacturer Magazine online for free.  Click here to read the magazine.


The above graph shows the percentage of value added activity is done by manufacturing in OECD countries.  We can see that Germany does rank towards the top, significantly higher than New Zealand.

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