Apprenticeships champion retires

Engineering stalwart Mike Latter is retiring this month having served the engineering manufacturing industry in a number of governance and advisory roles throughout his 50-year long career. Mr Latter also steps down from his role as Trustee for the Apprentice Training New Zealand Trust - an organisation he helped establish to support engineering apprenticeships nationwide. Mr Latter’s commitment to the apprentice training needs of industry comes from a knowing place, having started his own career as an apprentice at CWF Hamilton in Christchurch in the 1960s. Since then he has lent his expertise to several sector advisory and skills development groups. Most notably Mr Latter helped lead the establishment of several group apprenticeship training trusts, was a former NZ Engineering Federation board member, and a Council and sector advisory group member for industry training organisation, Competenz.
In 1992, Mr Latter was critical to the establishment of New Zealand’s first group apprentice training scheme, The Hawke’s Bay Engineering Trust. At its height the Trust employed 90 percent of Hawke’s Bay’s engineering apprentices, and became the benchmark for future group apprentice training schemes. “When the government changed the apprenticeship system in the late 1980’s, it left a significant gap for industry and potential apprentices alike,” says Mr. Latter. “It was a real labour of love for everyone involved, including companies, to keep the transfer of high quality skills through apprenticeships up-and-running.” Both industry and government took note of Mr Latter’s work. The EPMU and NZ Engineering Federation worked with him and the Hawkes Bay Engineering Trust to set up similar group apprenticeship schemes in Auckland and Dunedin in the mid-1990s. Building on the collective success of these regional group schemes, Mr Latter then helped lead the creation of a national group apprenticeship scheme for the engineering sector.
In 1999 the Apprentice Training New Zealand Trust, or ATNZ, was established. Today, ATNZ continues as New Zealand’s largest employer of engineering apprentices, seconding over 320 apprentices to companies nationwide to work and train. The Modern Apprenticeship Scheme established by government in 2001 also had its roots in the success of the group apprenticeship schemes Mr Latter was highly involved with. “It was really gratifying to have the work we were doing acknowledged by the government of the time,” says Mr Latter. EPMU national secretary, Bill Newson, says Mr Latter’s years of leadership and forward-thinking around group apprentice training has been invaluable to industry as a whole. “Mike’s contribution to the sector is marked by a selfless dedication to the sharing of skills and knowledge for our next generation of tradespeople,” says Mr Newson. “He is held in very high regard at all levels of industry for the work he has done throughout his career – and we wish Mike well for the future.” Mr Latter will continue as part owner and a director of Napier Engineering and Contracting Ltd.