A Regional Skills Leadership Group has been established to help support the changing labour market in the Bay of Plenty.

The Group is one of 15 Regional Skills Leadership Groups in New Zealand, set up by the Government to identify and support better ways of meeting future skills and workforce needs in our region.

“These Groups were planned before the arrival of Covid-19 as part of a joined up approach to labour market planning which will see our workforce, education and immigration systems working together to better meet the differing skills needs across the country”, said Willie Jackson. 

“This work is now more important than ever as Covid-19 is having a far-reaching impact on our regional labour markets. We have acted quickly to get these Groups going. They will help ensure we understand the impact that Covid-19 is having on jobs in the Bay of Plenty, and so can tailor the support provided.” 

The Groups provide independent advice, which employers and government agencies will act on to help re-employ, redeploy or retrain workers and entrepreneurs who have lost their jobs or closed their businesses. 

The Bay of Plenty Group will be co-chaired by Andrea Blair, who brings a wealth of experience in the geothermal industry and in governance, and Dr Chris Tooley, Chief Executive of Te Puna Ora o Mataatua Bay of Plenty. 

“We intend to provide leadership and coordination across economic development areas and provide real-time information to the government on the challenges facing the Bay of Plenty. With our four economic development agencies, industry stakeholders and Iwi/Māori all coming together, it is a great opportunity to work towards one overall regional plan,” said Andrea Blair. “In a COVID-19 environment, we will aim to coordinate the pipeline from unemployment to whānau ora support systems and training opportunities through to job placements. Māori have been disproportionately affected by our lockdown so an integrated equity strategy will also be an important part of the regional plan,” said Dr Chris Tooley. 

The Bay of Plenty is a geographically large and diverse region with the four sub-regions of Tauranga and the Western Bay, Eastern Bay of Plenty, Rotorua and Taupō.

Members are regional industry leaders, economic development agencies, and iwi, worker and government representatives, who will contribute their knowledge and local expertise. They will be supported by a team of data analysts, policy advisors and workforce specialists at the Ministry of Business, Employment and Innovation. 

The Groups will work closely with local and national initiatives including six Workforce Development Councils (WDCs). WDCs will focus on industry specific training needs across all of New Zealand while Skills Leadership Groups will offer a regional perspective on skills needs. Today, the Tertiary Education Commission announced the WDC interim Establishment Board (iEB) members that will be responsible for the formation of all six WDCs by a target date of October 2020. 

The Group will also be part of the Bay of Plenty Regional Leadership (RLG) that is convened by the Public Service Lead. The RLG is a group of regional leaders that will connect and coordinate recovery efforts across the region. 

The 15 Regional Skills Leadership Groups are initially set up on an interim, one-year basis with a swift appointment process, and a mandate to support the immediate response to the regional labour market impacts and disruption arising from COVID-19. 

In the longer term, the Groups will develop Regional Workforce Plans, which project labour supply needs, to ensure the regions have the right skills and workforce planning to seize local economic opportunities.