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Progress with the South Waikato Trades Training Centre


The new South Waikato Trades Training Centre is making strong progress with the funding contracts being signed to complete the $14m project.  Professional services firms have been appointed to undertake the next phases of design, engineering and cost management for the Centre.

The project is being led by the South Waikato Investment Fund Trust (SWIFT) in close liaison with Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology who will be the training provider.  The Centre was awarded a Government grant of $10.84 million in August last year and is being co-funded with a $1 million grant from Trust Waikato and SWIFT covering the balance of the costs.

SWIFT Chairman Bruce Sherman says, “It’s great to have those contracts signed and funds coming in.  This allows us to really fast track every aspect of the project and achieve the ultimate goal – local people into local jobs, fully equipped with the knowledge, skills and support for the future of work.”

The next steps include essential engagement with local iwi Raukawa and the Pacific Islands community.  The aspiration and one of the key measures of success is to encourage and assist young Māori and Pacifica into the trades and further learning in a place that makes them feel supported, culturally acknowledged, and enthused.

South Waikato District Mayor Jenny Shattock said the new South Waikato Trades Training Centre was an excellent example of the South Waikato education, business and local government sectors working together to help the district thrive and grow economically and socially.

“The Centre’s location near State Highway 1 will provide a fabulous new gateway to the northern entrance to Tokoroa and will complement the recent town centre redevelopment.”

The Centre will be a combined 3500M2 of learning, workshop and staff space with a commercial kitchen, café and barber shop.  It will also have a space allocated for a digital and entrepreneurial hub to help address the deep digital divide and assist young people into their own businesses.   Toi Ohomai has a long history and commitment to providing trades training in the South Waikato to align with local industry including Logistics, Engineering, Mechanical, Construction and Hospitality.

The project provides the opportunity to encourage local firms across the Waikato region to tender as much as possible to help assist the local economies and to provide job opportunities.   This aligns with the Government’s emphasis on driving the economy through trades and skills training as well as stimulating construction and growth.

The project is being managed by Veros Waikato and principal Peter Williams says “Veros is excited to be involved in such a significant project for South Waikato. Design is being fast-tracked and we’re looking forward to site works commencing following procurement of a main contractor.”


The South Waikato District is heavily affected by the impact of COVID 19. The district relies heavily on industry including Forestry, Timber processing, Water Bottling, Engineering, Transport/Logistics and Retail sectors, some of the hardest hit sectors of the pandemic. The forestry sector was impacted early due to the impact of Covid-19 in China, followed by the rest of the local economy when the Level-4 restrictions came into effect.
Job Seeker Applications to MSD have increased significantly. South Waikato already sits above national unemployment and deprivation indices. This gap is expected to widen in the short term, potentially repeating the pattern seen after the GFC in 2008. It is likely to take in excess of five years to return to more stable levels of employment without any significant intervention.

The COVID 19 situation has highlighted our district’s reliance on industry-based employment and we welcome the support of Government to create jobs in the short term. The Trades Training Centre project will support the region’s economy and create construction jobs in the short term, and operational jobs for the long term. We are already investing in our own future, but the opportunity to do so in partnership with Government, will have an immediate and significant impact on the financial security; health and wellbeing of our community; as well as the state of our environment, it is an extraordinary opportunity.

The key issues are:
– South Waikato District sits below the national average in a range of social, education, and health deprivation indicators and includes a disproportionately high number of NEETS (Not in Education, Employment, or Training)
– High reliance on industry (trades, forestry, processing) in the region, however the industry is calling for a higher rate of training within the region to employ locals.
– Limited fit-for-purpose training facilities to support growth in industry which is critical for the region.
– Clear gap identified to provide meaningful education with project having full stakeholder and community support.


SWIFT Economic Development Manager Francis Pauwels said a survey of South Waikato companies operating in five major industry sectors found they were planning to require about 850 new staff over the next five years.

“These companies – in construction, engineering, transport, manufacturing, forestry and hospitality – say their number one preference is to employ locals because they stay local and contribute to the community.

“About 60 per cent of the people who could be employed in these jobs will be new trainees and especially young people. About a fifth of people aged 18-25 years in South Waikato are not in employment, education or training (NEETS) – and we are confident this initiative will be the catalyst to get these young people into training and employment. We also expect to have a lot of second chance learners coming through the centre.”