The future for Aotearoa’s service sectors is a little brighter as Industry Training Organisation ServiceIQ has transferred $3 million to Ringa Hora, the new Services Workforce Development Council. The fund is for industry-led workforce and skills development projects in hospitality, tourism, retail, aviation, and travel. 

In addition, ServiceIQ’s substantial body of past work in this area – including the major Hinonga Kōkiri / Head Start project – has been gifted. 

Ringa Hora is thrilled with the generous endowment. Council Chair is Hinerangi Edwards says: “These gifts from ServiceIQ help Ringa Hora address a shared agenda of mahi that we may not have been able to progress otherwise.

“We look forward to working together with industry representatives to develop greater concepts and actions and are excited to embark on our journey with the head start that this research and fund has afforded us. As a publicly funded industry led organisation, our customer base is broad indeed and we are determined to listen and deliver. 

 “We are charged in legislation and Te Tiriti o Waitangi to understand the needs of our sectors regarding to their current and future workforces, use resources wisely, and to think about all New Zealanders and their right to a meaningful career.” 

Bruce Robertson, Board Chair for ServiceIQ, notes that many people underestimate the value these sectors bring to the nation’s economy and individual’s lives. 

“These sectors contribute 17% to the country’s GDP – that’s $57 billion – generated from 653,000 jobs, which is 25% of all jobs in the country. While those numbers are down on 2019, they will grow again and are predicted to be as high, and probably higher, by 2025. 

 As with many other industries in New Zealand, COVID has had a big impact and employers and their staff are hurting. There is, however, opportunity to recover and, at the same time, do things better in the future.

“ServiceIQ has recognised that, and it is with this in mind that these taonga of existing knowledge and funds have been transferred to Ringa Hora. We have also established a structure that ensures the future work on industry skills needs is in full collaboration with the associations and bodies that represent employers in the sectors ServiceIQ has represented since 2013.” 

Industry associations on board  

Tourism Industry Aotearoa Advocacy and Engagement Manager Steve Hanrahan says: “These funds could not have come at a better time to contribute to the recovery of the tourism industry. Tourism employers are facing severe workforce shortages. This investment will deliver strong benefits and TIA looks forward to building our relationship with the new WDC Ringa Hora as we work together on this initiative. Our grateful thanks also to ServiceIQ for creating this opportunity to continue the strong leadership they provided on workforce development strategies for the tourism sector.” 

 Marisa Bidois, Chief Executive of the Restaurant Association notes: “This contribution to our sector is welcomed. We thank ServiceIQ and its board for their foresight in how this has been approached and look forward to ensuring this contribution goes towards a project or initiative that positively impacts as many in the industry as possible.

“The ongoing skills shortage in our industry is well documented. Staffing shortages are one of the biggest stressors for operators, putting pressure on the business’ other employees, and the owners, to fill in where there are gaps in the staffing structure and means the venue cannot always operate to full capacity when they need to. 

 “The Restaurant Association already has several recruitment and retention programmes underway, however, more needs to be done to fill the top of the funnel and attract new workers to our industry which pre COVID was experiencing exponential growth.

“The background information and funds that Ringa Hora is receiving will mean the work put in by ServiceIQ to date to attract and train people for our industry will continue. We look forward to working together to pave a new strategy for to help us secure the workforce we need for the continued success of our industry.” 

Challenging but bright future  

ServiceIQ say it has made this happen because its board and industry members believe it is vital that the skills and workforce development mahi it carried out over many years should continue.

“With the government’s Reform of Vocational Education, the responsibility for fit-for-purpose qualifications and systems sits with Workforce Development Councils. By gifting to Ringa Hora both the completed Hinonga Kokiri work and funding for more, the service sectors, its employers, employees, and ultimately all New Zealanders as its customers, will benefit. 

 “The services sectors are going through a hard time,” says Jamie Williams, CEO of hospitality business Kapura, which has around 1000 staff across 40 venues. “It’s important not to be overly reactive. The reality is, sometimes, it’s darkest just before dawn. We need to look at structural issues and strategy to help the sectors rebuild, not just in the short term. 

 “Tactically, there are some things we need to do – and can do as an organisation – to tackle the big issues of attraction and retention, desire of employers to want to develop their people and the like. ServiceIQ has given Ringa Hora the information and resource to build that strategy, and we are very respectful of that putea and the fact that it must play a large part in the right decision making for industry.” 

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