Today’s announcement by the Government is a boost for education, training and talent retention in South Waikato, says Te Waka CEO Michael Bassett-Foss.
The planned upgrade to Tokoroa’s Trades Training Centre will receive $10.84 million in funding from the Covid-19 Response and Recovery Fund, which bolsters the $3.06 million already fronted by Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology, South Waikato Investment Fund Trust (SWIFT) and the South Waikato District Council (SWDC).
The purpose-built Trades Training Centre will be visible from State Highway 1, covering 2588m2 of which 280m2 will be a digital hub, with room for expansion.
Bassett-Foss says that Toi Ohomai’s current Tokoroa campuses are impractical, rundown and spread over three locations around the township.
“Many local students currently leave to train at other institutions with better facilities, and those students often don’t return once they are ready for full-time employment. This project will allow Tokoroa and the South Waikato region to retain that young talent in the area.
“We are confident that a fresh new space will encourage students to stay in the South Waikato to train and find employment once they are qualified.
“Regional districts need a flow of motivated young people to spur and maintain economic development in the area. This new facility will offer opportunities to youth in Tokoroa who are not currently in training, education or employment, and often can’t afford to go elsewhere.”
Te Waka was involved in lobbying the Government for investment in the Training Centre upgrade early in the process, while Bassett-Foss accompanied representatives from the SWDC when they met with Ministers in Wellington to garner support.
“A huge congratulations to SWIFT and SWDC for their relentless efforts with this pitch to get it across the line,” he says.
The funding of the new training facility will also help create jobs in the construction industry and support labour market initiatives outlined in the Waikato Labour Market Strategy, which was launched in April 2019.
“Te Waka has been working with the Labour Market Leadership Group and key industry leaders to implement a three-year programme to build, attract and retain skills and talent on a sector-by-sector basis,” says Bassett-Foss.
“Because construction across the Waikato is forecasted to keep growing, initial efforts to attract staff have focussed on this sector. It’s a real boost for Toi Ohomai’s Tokoroa campus to receive this funding so it can focus on providing training opportunities for local people in the trades sector.”
Training in other vocations will also be offered at the new facility, including automotive, hair and beauty, hospitality, engineering, forestry and freight and logistics. The relevant industries will also be able to contribute to the available courses.
“Waikato is finally starting to see Crown Infrastructure Projects (CIP) and Provincial Growth Funding (PGF) announcements roll through after 18 months of effort by applicants and support from the Waikato business community,” says Bassett-Foss.
Te Waka has had direct involvement in nearly $110 million worth of CIP and PGF funding. It has also assisted directly with 15 applications and helped a further 10 by providing advocacy to Government.