A connected freight and logistics eco-system for Waikato

“The Waikato region is expected to have 7,000 supply chain and logistics jobs that need to be filled within the next two years,” says Te Waka – Waikato Economic Development Workforce Development Lead, Pratishtha Purohit.  “We haven’t historically had an entry-level qualification for people to get into logistics and our workforce of truck drivers is ageing.  We need pathways to get more people into these roles; we can’t just keep looking overseas to fill them.”

This projected skills shortage prompted Te Waka to connect with Hanga-Aro-Rau Workforce Development Council (WDC) and the two organisations are now working in collaboration to better support the Waikato eco-system’s changing workforce demands.  By connecting key stakeholders including the Ministry of Social Development, Ministry of Education, iwi and the local community, this partnership is enabling industry to make visible demands and explore opportunities that will make a real difference for the freight and logistics sector in Waikato and beyond.  “We’ve had a couple of amazing multi-organisation wānanga already,” Pratishtha says.  “Through those discussions, I have had the opportunity to connect with Flo Samuels from the Hanga-Aro-Rau Māori Workforce Development Team and, together, we have met with Waikato employers in person to learn more about their challenges and priorities.  The work on the ground has been quite active so far, with a focus group and several pilot ideas coming out of that process.  Career mapping pathways for the sector is one of the key pilot ideas we plan to test with employers once it’s ready.”

Pratishtha says she brings a multicultural lens to her work and values the inclusive approach of the Hanga-Aro-Rau team.  “My role is to enable a sustaining and thriving workforce for our region, in particular by supporting underserved and priority groups including Māori, Pacific peoples and emerging groups like single mums (Solo parents), but also many others.  I am committed to enabling and facilitating connection with education providers and businesses, filling gaps and identifying opportunities where there is a need for advocacy, alignment or streamlining, from both the employer and the employee perspective.  Overall, I have valued our collaboration with Hanga-Aro-Rau so far and working with their team.”

Pratishtha looks forward to growing the partnership and creating greater efficiencies and outcomes for industry.  “I have worked in the vocational education space for a long time and had a front-row seat for the education reforms and the creation of the WDCs. With further changes on the horizon, there is still a lot of work to be done to educate employers on what this new direction will mean. We must ensure that their voices continue to be heard and that future qualifications match requirements”

Building these employer relationships has been critical in the early stages of the Te Waka Hanga-Aro-Rau partnership, Pratishtha says.  “The priority now is to make feedback channels really clear and direct for industry, and translate that into meaningful action.  There’s a huge opportunity for Hanga-Aro-Rau to facilitate a database of employers who they can support, identify what other workforce initiatives there are in the region, and champion the delivery of pilots that meet industry needs.  We have the opportunity to define a model for the Waikato that can be delivered nationwide. The potential impact of that approach gets me really excited.”