2023 has proved another challenging year for industry. Business confidence has been a tale of highs and lows as businesses faced uncertain times with rising costs often coupled with reduced demand.

While we are seeing record immigration levels and a softening of the unemployment levels across the nation, we acknowledge the struggle engineering & manufacturing employers continue to face finding skilled engineering trades people.

We at WECA continue to strive toward our goal of ‘Fostering a vibrant and sustainable engineering sector by attracting and developing engineers of the future’ and need to thank all our WECA members and sponsors for their continued support.

I’d like to thank Mary Jensen on behalf of the board for her tireless work. We are extremely fortunate to have Mary filling the role of WECA General Manager. Mary and her team seem to continually find ways of stretching their limited budget to what seems like endless bounds at times. Mary’s ability to network and connect with key industry, local body and government stakeholders has provided many opportunities for WECA to have influence and ensure the voice of industry is heard.

Mary is currently representing WECA on the Industry Stakeholder Group for Hanga-Aro-Rau Workforce Development Council, for the manufacturing, engineering and logistics sector in the vocational education space and is also working alongside a team comprising APL, Hanga-Aro-Rau, Advanced Manufacturing Aotearoa, EMA, Wintec and several other Manufacturing businesses on a pilot program to re-design the NZ Certificate of Manufacturing, with potential benefit for the whole manufacturing sector.

2023 has been an incredibly busy year for Careers Expos and information evenings. The WECA interactive stand at the Careers Expos are always popular with visitors. Thanks again to Mary’s team and those members who gave up their time to support these events.

WECA in partnership with Wintec – Te Pukenga managed to get an Engineering in Action Day off the ground again for the first time since 2021 with a great turnout of over 240 students visiting nearly a dozen member businesses. A big thankyou to all those businesses involved.

The real highlight of the year was the WECA 20th anniversary. Such a milestone couldn’t go without celebration, and we were very fortunate to be able to host an event at the University of Waikato’s new Te Pa facility. We had over 100 in attendance from the engineering and education sectors including many founding members. Special thanks to Sally Birch who worked tirelessly phoning around local business with invitations and encouragement to attend.

The Waikato Engineering Education Fund (WEEF) was also launched at the event. This fund held by Momentum Waikato is primarily for scholarships for trainees, apprentices and professionals in the engineering industry in the Waikato in the years to come.

We again finish the year with our finances in good shape and much thanks needs to go to Michelle Roberts from Stafford Engineering who manages our finances and prepares the financial reports for the board meetings. With income from the WECA 20th Anniversary event covering all costs and leaving a small surplus we were also able to donate $3k to the Waikato Engineering Education Fund (WEEF).

So, to 2024. With a new year will come new challenges. As the Coalition Government settles in, we will undoubtably see changes that will potentially impact our industries and supporting agencies. The disestablishment of Te Pūkenga a case in point. A focus for WECA will be to re-visit our Strategic Plan, reviewing our business goals and objectives ensuring they are fit for purpose in these changing times.

WECA will actively pursue new members, sponsors and funding sources to ensure we have the capacity to best advocate for our members.

Finally, I would like to thank all the board members who give up their time voluntarily for governance of the association and the many other things that come with being part of the board. In signing off I would like to wish all our WECA members, families and friends a Merry Christmas and happy and safe New Year.



Mike Welten
WECA Board Chair