As the Motor Trade Association of New Zealand (MTA) reaches its 100th anniversary in April 2017, chief executive Craig Pomare says the organisation continues to focus on two key member issues.
He says the first issue is addressing the skilled labour shortage across all the three member groups — general automotive repairers, collision repairers and heavy vehicle repairers.
The second critical issue, according to Pomare, is providing MTA members with the tools to make their businesses sustainable well into the future.
He says the MTA enjoys strong relationships with other industry bodies, including the Motor Industry Association, the Imported Motor Vehicle Industry Association, MITO, and government departments.
“We are a trade association focused on our members to help them grow their business, so they need to see benefits from us.”
He says many members are small to medium enterprises (SME) which need some assistance understanding their costs, and how to structure their hourly charge-out rates.
“Our MTA online toolbox has been a key element in helping our members create sustainable businesses,” he says.
Before taking the reins as the trade association’s chief executive, Pomare was the general manager of MTA member services, and he says this department is charged with addressing the skills shortage across the sector by working with government and other interested groups.
Pomare says that when MTA members were surveyed in 2006, there was a shortage of around 2000 automotive technicians, and 10 years on that number has reduced to around 1500, but “It’s still a big number.”
“We are going to tackle multiple streams to solve the problem,” Pomare says.
He believes that New Zealand schools are too focused on academic occupations rather than trades, which “sadly, still carry a stigma.”
According to Pomare, the MTA has an excellent relationship with the industry training organisation MITO, which endeavours to create a greater presence for the trades in schools and at careers day events.
MITO is the industry training organisation for the automotive, transport, logistics, industrial textile fabrication and mining sectors.
Through its ‘Got a Trade? Got it Made!’ initiative MITO wants to reposition trades and services as Plan-A career paths for young people aged 16- to 24 years, and key influencers, including parents, teachers and careers advisors.
Pomare believes the best apprentices are young people in their early 20s with a bit of maturity and life experience, who have realised they need to find a career opportunity.
“We will use social media to grab their attention, it’s difficult, but we’ll give it a go. We are also keen to get closer to their parents to deliver our messages as well.”
Celebrating 100 years
Cars had only been around for 20 years in April 1917 when a group of general repairers in the Manawatu township of Fielding formed a collective called the Motor Trade Association to give themselves buying power, and a vehicle with which to talk to the government of the day.
Celebrating this achievement is the MTA 100, which the association will host at the Wellington waterfront from April 28 to 30, which will see a public display as well as a paid display of vehicles from the last 100 years.
Pomare says the MTA 100 event will celebrate past, present, and future vehicle technologies, including the first-ever Mercedes-Benz car to be registered in New Zealand, alongside the futuristic Rinspeed concept car (designed by a Kiwi) making its first Australasian appearance.
Pomare says, “It’s a celebration of motoring in New Zealand, and we’ve been scouring the country looking for vehicles from each year from 1917 to now so that we can have a large showcase of cars for people to see and enjoy.”