Investment to meet demand for heavy machinery operators

2 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineApril 16, 2019

The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) will invest up to $4.3 million to help establish a state-of-the-art heavy machinery operator training centre in Northland to address skills shortages and grow jobs, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has announced.

“The talent pool of experienced people working as heavy machinery operators is reducing every year as workers retire or move on, making it difficult for companies to fill vacant roles with qualified candidates,” Jones said.

“The skills shortage is chronic in Northland where a lot infrastructure and construction work is underway and the forestry, wood processing and agriculture sectors are expanding. The vacancies exceed the available labour pool.”

Jones said the training centre will develop a skilled, work-ready workforce in Northland, focusing on heavy machine operators for the civil, forestry, farming and construction sectors.

“Wilson Earthmoving Group Limited has the experience, having set up a temporary training centre in Whangarei and investing their own money in purchasing state-of-the-art simulators and machinery. They also have had the input and support of the local industry,” Jones said.

“The new technology they use helps trainees be more accurate, productive and safe and makes it easier for them to progress from a simulated environment to the worksite.”

The training will target school leavers, the unemployed, and young adults looking to get upskilled. The programme also includes pastoral care to ensure trainees have the best chance of completing the course and finding work. Eighty students will be trained this year.

“The PGF is supporting people to learn the skills needed for local jobs, while also helping employers meet their growing labour force needs,” Jones said.