WECA member's update - April
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WECA update 

Hello <<First Name>>,

There has been plenty of movement in the area of engineering education and training. I have recently been part of the Manufacturing and Technology Sector Consortium Group (SCG) to ‘Review and Refine the NCEA Level 1 and 2 Vocational Pathways documents’ for the Ministry of Education.   As part of the process the six Vocational Pathways being integrated into secondary schools are under review.
These include:
•    Service Industries
•    Creative Industries
•    Primary Industries
•    Manufacturing and Technology
•    Construction and Infrastructure
•    Social and Community Service

I joined Ross Peterson (Skills ITO), Bill Sole (Competenz), David J (Permark), Mike Kenny (Electropar), Dick Parsons, David Shearer (Canterbury Development Corporation), Murray Hobbs (Ellesmere School), Mike Grumball (Southern Institute of Technology), Terry Neal (MITO), Linda Tame, Dale Williams, Liz McKenzie (CORE Education) at a two day meeting in March in Wellington.

Read about our key recommendations here.

I would also like to acknowledge the passing of Bob Higgs. Bob was a loyal and supportive member of WECA and contributed greatly to the training of apprentices.Our condolences to Antony, who has promised to pick up where Bob left off, and to the team at Supreme Sheetmetals.

Other news this month:
* Good Neighbour - were you spotted?
* Engineering in Action Day 2015
* Employer Engagement Groups
* Labour Market Forum invite
* Scope out engineering talent
* Avionics engineer to speak
* Young engineers update

Wrap up warm and all the best,


Mary Jensen,  WECA manager

WECA thanks sponsors:


Sad farewell to industry leader

Training more than 40 engineering apprentices is a legacy Waikato engineering leader Bob Higgs can be proud of.

The founder of Hamilton's Supreme Sheetmetals, who died in late February, will be fondly remembered for the contribution he made to Waikato's engineering sector by training young people, says son and manager of the business Antony.

"He certainly did his part for the industry by training 42 apprentices and I think he would be happiest to be remembered for that."

Bob worked in the industry for more than 50 years, founded Supreme Sheetmetals in the early 1970s and was also a supportive and loyal WECA member. He will be greatly missed by his family, staff, colleagues and the engineering sector. 


Good WECA turnout at Good Neighbour

It was excellent to catch up at WECA's Good Neighbour event recently.

Members enjoyed sampling a selection of locally brewed craft beers and hearing about Good Neighbour's Smart Brew system.

Were you spotted? Check out some photos from the event.
Captions, clockwise from top left: Roy Adams (Competenz) and Peter McKenzie (Energy Products); Grant Baker and Antony Higgs (Supreme Sheetmetals) and Mary Jensen (WECA); Cameron Murray (PFS Engineering) and Sally Birch (WECA) and Sam Cook and Steve McNae (Stainless Design).
Captions, clockwise from top left: Dave Stuart (Stafford Engineering) and Johnny Gordon (Wintec); Bart Engelsman (Active Plastics) and Steve Wilkinson (Stafford Engineering); Andrew (Good Neighbour), Mary (WECA) and Shelley Wilson (Wintec) and Levinia Paku (Lawson Williams) and Jonas Hoffman-Vocke (PDV Consultants).

Event: Engineering in Action Day 2015

Wintec, in association with WECA, is pleased to invite you to be part of Engineering in Action Day 2015 on May 12.

Engineering in Action gives Waikato secondary school students and their teachers a unique opportunity to see what engineering looks like in real time, out in the industry and in the classroom.

Over the years we have received tremendous support for this event and we invite engineering companies to continue to open your doors to young students.

This will involve a site visit to your company by a group of students and teacher. 

When: Tuesday May 12, with industry visits from 9.15am to 10:30am and 12.45pm to 2:00pm 

Sign up by emailing with the following details:

* Company contact person & contact details
* Details of site visit
* Visit times (9.15 to 10.30am or 12.45pm to 2pm)
* Number of students you can show through your site

or phone Naomi on 07 8348800 ext 3726.

Engineering in Action - an excellent way to be an active part of building Waikato's engineering future.

Labour Market Forum invite

We have developed a labour market strategy that will enable all Waikato people, communities and businesses to reach their potential.

Now it’s time to implement it.

Join us for an overview of the Waikato Labour Market Strategy, its development, and to see how far we have come.

You are invited to play your part to turn the vision into reality.

Date: Thursday 23 April, 2015

Time: 3:30pm for a 3:45pm start,
          followed by drinks from 5:00pm to 5:30pm

Venue: The Atrium, Wintec House,
            cnr Nisbet & Anglesea Streets, Hamilton

Please RSVP by Wednesday 01 April 2015 to:

WECA members are being invited to take part in a Speeding Interviewing Night with University of Waikato and Wintec engineering students early next month.

Date: May 6, 5.30pm

Venue: University of Waikato Management School foyer. 

Industry representatives interview students one-on-one for seven minutes, after which there is a three minute period to provide feedback to the students. This process is then repeated. Refreshments provided. 

To register your interest please email

Clarity needed around Vocational Pathways  

WECA's Mary Jensen has been part of the Manufacturing and Technology Sector Consortium Group (SCG) to ‘Review and Refine the NCEA Level 1 and 2 Vocational Pathways documents’ for the Ministry of Education.  

The group's key recommendations include:

For Manufacturing and Technology: ICT needs to be highlighted in all aspects (ie: in language, context, layout, imaging, etc). This is an area of national focus and opportunity which is largely hidden.
- Vocational Pathways are not well understood – improving this is critical to the success of the VPs. 
Other messaging also required:
- A clear message to communicate is that if a learner achieves a VP award, that does not necessarily indicate they have all the prerequisites to continue to a higher level qualification like NZDE. M&T VP needs to light the way to technician / technology roles
- Need to de-emphasise use of NCEA 3 / UE as a measure of school’s success / effectiveness.
- Current booklets are not clear. The booklet needs to be rewritten:
Language around VPs: 
- Needs reviewing in terms of audience
- Need to speak to employers, schools, ITOs consistently
- Specifically tailored language - consistent messages for parents, teachers, BoTs, employers, schools, ITOs, learners, community, TEOs eg. uses & influencers
- Current messaging is geared towards ‘low achievers’ not all learners - need to be inclusive of all students
- Schools, TEOs, employers etc need support to understand and implement the VPs and to collaborate in doing so (this can’t be done from Wellington)
- Industry and employers expect to be consulted around process and approach for dealing with employability and work-readiness skills


 Employer Engagement Groups - get involved

Wintec has established Employer Engagement Groups (EEGs) for each major industry in the Waikato region with the goal to build a stronger community through education, research and career development.

EEGs help Wintec to meet the needs of people in the region who want to further their learning. They also help meet the needs of businesses who employ these people.

Insight, knowledge and advice from industry leaders like you, helps Wintec develop training and education programmes that provides our graduates with the skills and work-readiness that industry demands.

What’s involved? As an EEG member, you’ll meet with your industry group and academic managers between 2 - 4 times a year to:
• Talk about key industry trends, upcoming issues and future directions.
• Help ensure that our training and education is meeting the needs of businesses and organisations in our region.
• Provide strategic advice as well as feedback on the currency and relevance of teaching practices and the employability of graduates.

How do I join an EEG or make an enquiry? To get involved with an EEG and influence the future of your industry, you need to be experienced, knowledgeable and a leader in your industry. You can be nominated by your sector, or a professional body, recommended by members of the group, invited by the chair of the group, or invited by Wintec.

To find out more please contact Wintec’s Dean of Faculty, Gaye Barton:

Avionics engineer to speak in Hamilton

The Australian avionics systems engineer who helped build, test and launch the Rosetta space craft that successfully landed a probe on a comet (Comet-67P) says New Zealand and Australia should be investing much more heavily in science and engineering.

Warwick Holmes spent 29 years working on European Space Agency (ESA) spacecraft projects and missions including four-and-a-half years on the Rosetta project.

He recently returned to his home-town Sydney and says he's disappointed to find that engineers and scientists 'down under' are so poorly paid, when to his mind they should be one of the world's most highly paid professions, "as indeed they are in some other parts of the world".
Mr Holmes will be in Hamilton later this month to give a public lecture at the University of Waikato about his career and the Rosetta project, and he'll also be showing secondary school students "how to cook a comet".

Read full story here.
Mr Holmes' free public lecture will be at 6pm on Thursday 23 April in the Academy of Performing Arts.

If you'd like to attend RSVP to

Young Engineers update

In our last newsletter we reported on new after school club teaching children basic principles of Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths and Physics by building motorised Lego models.

WECA co-ordinator Sally Birch enrolled her nine-year-old daughter Rebekah and promised to keep us posted with her progress:

"Rebekah loves Young Engineers and is always excited about being able to build something that moves. They have built a racing car, pirate ship and even a robot rabbit for Easter. I have re-enrolled her for another term as I see this as a fun way to keep her interested in those all-important STEM subjects."

Developed in Israel, Young Engineers is taught in more than 13 countries around the world and in Hamilton is available in both English and Te Reo Maori.

Read more here.

A word from our sponsors:

Staff Turnover in the Waikato

2014 National Staff Turnover Survey shows the Waikato has the lowest staff turnover rate of the major cities in New Zealand.

The NZ Staff Turnover Survey has been undertaken for the last 8 years and is the only large-scale survey of turnover in New Zealand. It is run by Lawson Williams Specialist Recruitment with offices in the Waikato and Auckland, in partnership with the Human Resources Institute of New Zealand.

The turnover results by region for 2014 were

•    Christchurch 18.1%
•    Rest of South Island 16.1%
•    Wellington 15.8%
•    Auckland 15.8%
•    Waikato 14.7%
•    Rest of North Island 12.5%

Cost and impact of staff turnover

With the survey showing staff turnover running at 16.3% per annum across the country and turnover costing 50% to 300% of base salary per person leaving (depending on the job), staff turnover is a significant financial & productivity issue for employers. 

Of course it’s a ‘silent killer’ and is often under-rated because it never appears on any one line item in an employer’s budget. Financial losses caused by turnover are primarily those of lost productivity and that hits on the bottom-line total.

It’s an important economic issue, with national ramifications for labour market, immigration and education policies.

For individual organisations, staff turnover is an excellent benchmark indicator of the success or failure of the organisation’s recruitment & retention efforts. Employers with high staff turnover compared to others need to ask the question about their approach in these areas.

What's the latest??

Keep us posted with your company news and photos and you might see yourself in the next WECA newsletter. We're interested in your achievements, key appointments, awards and anything else of note.

Email items, ideas or photo for consideration to


Thanks again to WECA sponsors:


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