Regional Skills Leadership Groups to be eyes and ears for labour market recovery

  • Hon Willie Jackson

The Government is establishing 15 independent Regional Skills Leadership Groups to better manage changing skills and workforce needs in our regions and cities and to support the recovery of labour markets.

“These Groups were planned before the arrival of Covid-19 as part of a joined up approach to labour market planning which will see our workforce, education and immigration systems working together to better meet the differing skills needs across the country”, said Willie Jackson.

“We know Covid-19 is having a far-reaching impact on regional economies, labour markets and people. We have acted quickly to get the groups going to facilitate a coordinated regional and central government response to the disruption caused by Covid-19.”

“Initially the Groups will be the eyes and the ears on the ground, supporting the immediate response to the regional labour market impact arising from Covid-19.”

“They will bring a local leadership voice and common view identifying workforce and skills needs in their region, both now and in the future, and advise on actions to cultivate these.

“Our employer, skills, education, and welfare agencies will act on the Groups’ advice to help re-employ, redeploy or retrain workers and entrepreneurs who have lost their jobs or closed their businesses, and in so doing reduce reliance on migrant workers where New Zealanders are available and able to be trained.”

The Groups feature regional industry leaders, economic development agencies, and iwi, worker and government representatives, who will contribute their knowledge and local expertise. They will be supported by a team of data analysts, policy advisors and workforce specialists.

For their first year, the Groups will be set up on interim, one-year basis with a swift appointment processes, and a mandate to gather local intelligence that supports the COVID-19 response.

Government agencies will be advised by the Groups on the labour market situation in the regions. In the longer term the Groups will actively work with their communities and deliver workforce plans to ensure the regions have the right skills and workforce planning to seize local economic opportunities.

The Groups will work closely with local and national initiatives including six Workforce Development Councils (WDCs). WDCs will focus on industry specific training needs across all of New Zealand while Skills Leadership Groups will offer a regional perspective on skills needs. Today, the Tertiary Education Commission announced the WDC interim Establishment Board (iEB) members that will be responsible for the formation of all six WDCs by a target date of October 2020.

Ten of the groups are launching today with the other five following in the next few weeks.