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Industry leads effort to highlight pathway to distribution and logistics sector

The Manawatū – Whanganui Distribution and Logistics Sector Working Party aims to lift the profile of the sector and unites with tertiary providers to fill a looming skills shortage.

The Working Party was created following research carried out by the Central Economic Development Agency (CEDA) which found the sector will need a further 700 employees in the near future. The report highlighted the sector is already dealing with too few skilled people applying for roles, and that this will only worsen as many in the industry retire.

The Working Party includes Talent Central, a facilitator service employed by secondary schools throughout the Horizon’s region to work with industry and tertiary providers and ITOs to create pathways to work.

“My job has been to design an education pathway for local students. This is an industry-led process, and we’ve bought the schools and tertiary sectors in to create a strong pathway,” says Kelly Gay, Director of Student Futures at Talent Central.

The working party has identified five key areas of employment opportunity to focus on:

  • Mechanicals
  • Diesel
  • Warehousing
  • Road transport – drivers
  • Refrigeration
  • Logistics – catchall sector that requires school leavers through to graduates.

“Together, we’ve identified gaps, and from there, I approached ITOs and tertiary providers, and together we engineered pathways backwards into schools. This allows schools to seamlessly connect and allows students to exploring the various facets of sector employment.”

“Everyone has come to the party, including UCOL who are designing a new qualification suite.”

UCOL Executive Dean of Engineering & Applied Technologies, Dr Nicky Van der Bergh, says his team are creating a full suite of programmes to start rolling out in 2018-19, including proposals to establish a cadetship model for warehousing and road transport, as well as apprenticeships for heavy diesel and refrigeration.

“The sector is set to overtake education in terms of earnings for our region. We need to prepare and work towards training locals to enter the workforce. The sector is also under pressure from outside our region as well – I’m confident our courses will be in demand,” says Dr Van der Bergh.

Mr Gay, says that by working with UCOL, Massey University, who provide higher education for the logistics sector in business management, and the Logistics Training Group, we will soon have a complete education pipeline solution.

This year, at the Sort It Career Expo we had a big focus on distribution and logistics. Now, we are working directly with career advisors in schools. This month a group of about 20 secondary school career counsellors from Queen Elizabeth College, Palmerston North Girls’ High School, Palmerston North Boys’ High School, Freyberg High School, St Peter’s College, Longburn Adventist College, Waiopehu College, Tararua College, Awatapu College and Feilding High School will visit several industries in the logistics and distribution sector. Then, industry leaders will begin a programme of visiting schools and talking about the sector and the opportunities that are available.”

Following that, will be the creation of some information packages for interested students to give to their parents and caregivers to help with informed decision making.

“A lot has changed in the past decade. There are good salaries, interesting jobs and opportunities – yet parents, students and career advisors aren’t fully aware – we have to change this, if we are to attract more people to the sector.”

“In the past fortnight, I’ve had five offers of work for young people. I know of one firm that has several apprenticeships unfilled. Imagine having the opportunity to be trained up, for free, to work in growing sector with lots of opportunities?”

Mr Gay says like all sectors, distribution and logistics are dealing with disruption, and while automation will come, it is still a long way off in New Zealand. “At present, and for the foreseeable future, we need students with licences, as most employers agree that it is an essential part of being work ready.

The programme of works complements the work of between Talent Central and Manfield – whose ambition is that every student in Manawatū can leave school with a driver’s licence. Alongside the initiative, The Manawatū Chamber of Commerce and Talent Central will launch their Work Ready Passport. To be launched at the end of July, it will help students identify which industry they want to enter and assist them to gain qualifications while still in school. Mr Gay says it will also provide confidence to an employer that the applicant has what it takes to make a go of the sector.

For more information:

Kelly Gay

Director of Student Futures

Talent Central

[email protected]

021 747 003


Dr Nicky Van der Bergh

Executive Dean Engineering & Applied Technologies

Education and Applied Research

[email protected]

022 068 3863

This was published in the Latest News newsletter on July 12, 2017. Sign up here to receive our newsletters directly

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