Creating a long-term local solution to the growing skills shortage in the engineering sector is the aim of a new philanthropic investment fund at Momentum Waikato. The Waikato Engineering Education Fund (WEEF), which will focus on innovation, diversity and equity in the industry, was launched by the Waikato Engineering Careers Association (WECA) at its recent 20th Anniversary event at The University of Waikato’s impressive new Pā.

Hanga-Aro-Rau, the Workforce Development Council for Manufacturing Engineering and Logistics, applauds this new Fund, as the skills gap is currently set to grow by 38 per cent to 40,000 workers by 2028.

The council’s Chief Executive Phil Alexander-Crawford says the Waikato Engineering Education Fund spearheads a direct regional response to the shortage.

“This approach is hugely encouraging for our sector as Aotearoa faces critical skills shortage. Women are a major source of untapped talent and are a big part of the solution and we are also fortunate to have a growing Māori and Pacific community. These people are increasingly essential for creating an innovative and skilled workforce,” says Phil.

WECA General Manager Mary Jensen says the association was founded in 2003 to combat disconnection between the tertiary education system and employers, who were struggling to work together to build a workforce.

“Before WECA was established, engineering and manufacturing was somewhat a hidden industry. WECA has been able to bring our sector to life for young people. It’s paid off, with those who have been involved for 20 years still around today – testament to the fact that training and growing your own workforce from the ground up grows strong businesses,” says Mary.

Mary says over the last two decades the WECA team has attended more than 60 Careers Expos, spoken to thousands of young people, built websites, facilitated work placements, and lobbied on behalf of the engineering sector.

Momentum Waikato Chief Executive Kelvyn Eglinton welcomes the creation of the Waikato Engineering Education Fund, as it is a prime example of the long-term thinking at the core of the community foundation and regional endowment fund model.

“I congratulate WECA on the establishment of the Waikato Engineering Education Fund. There are clearly skills shortages across a number of sectors of the New Zealand economy, and a philanthropic investment fund is a key foundational solution upon which more immediate responses can be built with confidence,” says Kelvyn.

The Waikato Engineering Education Fund managed and invested by Momentum Waikato will provide income primarily for scholarships for trainees, apprentices, and professionals in the Waikato engineering sector, with a focus on innovation, equity and diversity.

Donations to the Waikato Engineering Education Fund can be made via

Image: Hanga-Aro-Rau Chief Executive Phil Alexander-Crawford, WECA General Manager Mary Jensen and Hanga-Aro-Rau’s Hagen Tautari at the WECA 20th Anniversary at The Pā at The University of Waikato.