• Alliances Bring Waikato Engineering Careers to Life

    Aug 2014 - Media Release

    alliances bring waikato engineering careers to lifeCollaboration between Waikato engineers and educators is being upheld as a New Zealand model helping meet sector skills shortages.

    Waikato Engineering Careers Association (WECA) co-ordinator Mary Jensen said the region’s engineers and educators are among the best organised in New Zealand in workingtogether to combat sector skills shortages.

    “Now it’s time to build on this collaboration and become a centre of excellence for mechanical engineering in New Zealand,” Mary said.

    About 60 secondary school teachers, polytechnic tutors, university lecturers, apprenticeship co-ordinators and engineering business owners attended a WECA engineering evening for educators at Hamilton’s Stafford Engineering recently where Mary praised them for helping meet the organisation’s goal of creating enough skilled workers for the sector.

    “Our mission is to provide Waikato employers with a sustainable flow of engineering trainees and job seekers skilled to meet the needs of the engineering industry. It’s great our region’s engineers and educators are so committed to this,” Mary said.

    Skills shortages in the sector are exacerbated by mechanical engineering being a “hidden” industry not often seen in the media making promotion extremely important, Mary said.

    “Young people and their parents often aren’t aware of how to enter mechanical engineering as a career and that makes it difficult. The more businesses and educators who get on board with promoting these great, and the educational pathways within them, careers the better,” she said.

    Partnerships with Wintec, the University of Waikato, industry training organisations and secondary schools, along with the dedication of about 80 Weca members, make the organisation one of the strongest of its kind in the country, Mary said.

    “Now it’s time to build on this collaboration and become a centre of excellence for mechanical engineering in New Zealand”

    WECA has also formed alliances with the Technology Subject Associations (TESAC), fostering the development of technology in the New Zealand curriculum, and Technology Education New Zealand (TENZ), a network promoting and supporting technology education.

    “Mechanical engineering is vital to the local dairy industry and the government’s growth agenda to produce higher value exports and therefore educators are vital to the future of New Zealand,” Mary said.

    The engineering evening was part of the lead up to Engineering Careers Day on May 8. The day, a joint venture between Weca and Wintec, is part of Get a Life careers month and includes tours through engineering businesses.

    WECA was formed as a not-for-profit organisation in 2003 by small and medium mechanical engineering companies responding to sector skills shortages.

    “These people are committed to developing the next generation of engineers.”

    More than 12 percent of all employment in Waikato is in manufacturing.

    Mechanical Engineering in the region covers a variety of fields from building special purpose machinery and product development to welding, machining and precision tool making. Waikato engineers may work in aluminium extrusion, steel tube manufacturing or plastic moulding.

    Technology teachers, tertiary engineering teachers and WECA members at the evening had tours of the Stafford Engineering factory and the chance to see Hamilton businessman Bart Engelsman’s Akwakat invention.

    Akwakat transforms ordinary mountain bikes into twin inflatable hull water bikes. The inflatable pontoons, folding drive shaft and front rudder fit into a carry bag with a total weight of less than 15kg.

    For more information

    Mary Jensen: 07 834 8868 or 021 295 5951

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