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The four industry training organisations (ITOs) that deliver on-job training to New Zealand’s burgeoning service sector workforce have joined forces to issue a ‘call to arms’ over mounting skills’ shortages.

The big problem

Almost 600,000 New Zealanders are employed in jobs that contribute more than $47 billion to the national economy. But there’s a problem. A big problem; and it will affect you. These 600,000 people make up the service sector workforce which covers everyone from the people that look after our elderly to those that cut your hair, cook your favourite meal in a restaurant, or instruct at your gym. These are skilled and dedicated people. What’s more, it’s estimated that another 200,000 people will be needed in the service sectors by 2020. Getting them trained and skilled is vital.

So, what’s the problem? The service sector is often regarded as ‘less worthwhile’ than others. This means that service employee training will often be overlooked by funding bodies, so hindering efforts to upskill workers.

We think that new employees who will become the people who look after our elderly, cut your hair, cook in your favourite restaurant, or instruct at your gym should have the opportunity to skill and upskill. Imagine the results if they’re not skilled.

And it’s the same for our tourism industry, and all the services that are part of that or key to New Zealand giving the best visitor experience – people in our airlines, in hotels and retail stores, for example.

What’s being done?

The first step has been an evidence-based report that highlights the contribution of the service sector to the economy; and to your health, lifestyle and personal well-being.

This report, released at Parliament by the Minister of Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment, Paul Goldsmith, proves that:

  • without skilled service sector employees, our health and safety, and sense of national wellbeing, would be profoundly compromised
  • a well-trained workforce helps maintain global brand and international reputation
  • well qualified people in the service sectors positively contribute to your lifestyle, leisure and entertainment
  • service sectors account for 29% of New Zealand employment
  • service sectors contributed $47.8 billion to GDP, approximately 22% of the country’s total production of goods and services
  • the quality (productivity) of labour improved by over 11% over the seven years to 2016 – further evidence of the sector’s robust contribution to the nation’s economic efforts
  • to maintain the level of service we currently enjoy, and in some areas expand this, it is important to plan for a well-qualified workforce
  • industry training organisations have the ability and expertise to train people
  • these ITOs need the support from government and industry to make that training happen.

Courtesy of ‘At Your Service Aotearoa’

For more information, you may wish to download the full report.