Waikato engineering businesses have joined forces to help workers affected by the sudden closure of A & G Price in Thames this week, with job offers flooding in to the Waikato Engineering Careers Association.
WECA manager Mary Jensen said within 40 minutes of calling on engineering business members to offer jobs to the 100 workers affected by the liquidation, 40 vacancies had come in Friday morning.
“It is excellent to see our members working together to make sure these people re-enter the workforce in our region as soon as possible. Ironically, much of our industry is in the grip of skills shortages so we need to do everything we can to keep them local,” Ms Jensen said.
Jobs offered by some of Waikato’s most successful engineering businesses range from welders, fitters, CNC machinists and fabricators to workshop managers, project engineers and supervisors.
WECA is co-ordinating a meeting of employers in Thames on Thursday, 11am, GBD in Pollen St and inviting effected A & G employees to attend.
Meanwhile, establishing Waikato as a New Zealand’s hub for engineering excellence is the aim of a new-look WECA to be relaunched on August 10.
The fresh approach by engineers in the region aims to foster a vibrant engineering sector through attracting and developing skills vital for the future of the sector, a significant contributor to the region’s exports.
WECA’s new strategic plan is being applauded by Waikato economic development leader Dallas Fisher, who says the collaborative approach by the industry plays an important role in regional growth.
“Waikato engineers are taking a strategic and focused approach in fostering and attracting the talent our region needs to prosper. We strongly support the work of WECA and see it as crucial in establishing our regional and global reputation as a hub of engineering excellence,” Mr Fisher, chair of Waikato Means Business, said.
Mr Fisher will address engineers and educators at the WECA relaunch at Stainless Design in Hamilton, where he will outline the synergies between key goals of regional economic development and the association.
“Looking ahead as a region there are very serious skills shortages looming over the next few decades. Other industry sectors need to follow WECA’s lead in a more collaborative approach to working to combat these challenges,” Mr Fisher said.
WECA was founded by Waikato engineering businesses in 2003 to collectively address skills shortages, and has a membership of more than 30 businesses who employ about 2500 engineering staff between them.
Ms Jensen said the revised approach by the association will further enhance the membership offering by better leveraging strategic alliances with the economic development agency, tertiary providers, industry groups and changemakers.
“WECA is recognised as the voice of engineering in our region, and has done a great job of lifting the profile of this hidden industry. The number of Mechanical Engineering apprentices in Waikato rival that of the entire Auckland region. Now it is time to better develop and attract the engineers we need for the future by broadening the scope of our work,” Ms Jensen said.
“It’s about collaborating and combining resources and remaining innovative to best meet the big picture needs of our sector and region,” she said.
“WECA members are known for actively attracting and developing the next generation of engineers, developing their own talent from within and focusing on quality people, processes and products,” she said.
The organisation will continue work to promote the sector to secondary school students, particularly via EVolocity Waikato, a regional competition where students design, build and race their own electric vehicles.
“EVolocity gives students hands-on experience with multidisciplinary and innovative engineering practices. We’ve already seen some talented students who have taken part in this competition employed by WECA members.”
Other WECA events include Engineering for Educators, taking secondary and tertiary technology teachers from the classroom to the coalface of industry and Engineering in Action, where students visit engineering businesses.
WECA’s work aligns with the five strategic economic development priorities for the region – maintaining and building the region’s location advantage, growing global industries, making business easier, building, attracting and retaining skills and talent and telling the Waikato story.
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