Port Employment Precinct key component of Te Pūwaha

Published on June 09, 2021

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The PEP, which is governed by the Whanganui District Employment Training Trust (WDETT), supports Te Pūwaha by facilitating on the job and classroom-based training. Craig Garner was employed as Operations Manager for the PEP in October 2020. 

The PEP values partnerships and a collaborative approach and recently moved into a co-located space, at “The Backhouse” on Taupō Quay, with Te Manu Atatū (Whanganui Māori Business Network), 100% SWEET and Whanganui Chamber of Commerce.

WDETT secured $1.5 million dollars of funding from Kānoa – Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit, part of the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment to contribute on addressing skill and labour supply gaps in the region.  The funding was provided through Te Ara Mahi, a programme that aims to address long-term barriers to employment and provide pathways to education and skills training.

“An emphasis on employment and upskilling local people, in particular those in the Castlecliff community, and creating pathways to sustained local employment is the priority,” Garner says.

“Te Ara Mahi benefits the whole community by supporting a sustainable business environment and quality jobs.”

Multiple agencies, training and education providers work tirelessly to ensure skills demands are met. The PEP, in partnership with Iwi, councils, business and community representing Te Pūwaha, identify and collaborate with initiatives that facilitate current and future employment demands related to Te Pūwaha project outcomes and port-related career pathways.

“This requires an assessment of future roles, skills gaps, training needs and human resourcing required to meet expected demand during and post the port revitalisation project,” Garner says.

“This will introduce skills applicable and transferable to a variety of industries and benefit the broader economy and local capability consequentially.”

An example of these working partnerships was the PEP’s support of 100% SWEET, which delivers an in-school work-ready programme targeting those who are about to finish secondary education and head into the workforce.

“Motivating our youth and acknowledging Whanganui has an innovative and vibrant business community is part of ensuring we can grow businesses sustainably,” Garner says. 

Anyone interested in employment or upskilling in Whanganui should contact the PEP directly to discuss how they can benefit or be supported.

Garner sees a range of benefits resulting from the funding. Education providers and universities will undertake higher-level training. The funding will also enhance vocational (on-the-job) education opportunities and businesses can continue to upskill their workers. 

“Youth and those currently unemployed are valuable resources to fill a widening skills gap and increased job vacancies,” Garner says, “

“Nationally; an aging workforce, closed international borders, and large-scale infrastructure initiatives mean skilled and labour workers are in high demand. The PEP is not a competitor to other training providers but can provide valuable work-ready training, including inductions and work experience opportunities.”

Garner says identifying skills gaps and cross-industry training opportunities would be an ongoing challenge and opportunity to better support local and national education strategies. One of Whanganui’s strengths is its diverse and progressive business sector that is motivated about success. 

“Challenges like traffic congestion, high-cost housing, and pressures related to COVID that larger centres are experiencing make Whanganui an attractive place to invest in a business and work,” Garner says.

“Whanganui has excellent primary and secondary education options, which is valuable to young families, and plenty of tertiary and trades training options for those seeking careers locally.”

The public can learn more by visiting port.org.nz for contact options, and make a time to discuss individual requirements. Alternatively, they can sign up to a contact list to be informed of future engagement opportunities.