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An industry voice – key to industry training success

Industry voice has been, and will continue to be, the key for the success of quality industry training, writes Kaarin Gaukrodger, Director, Connexis.

As your industry voice, Connexis will continue to be the key for the success of quality industry training.

Over the past four years the Reform of Vocational Education (RoVE) has seen the priorities for the delivery of industry training set by the Government and Te Pukenga.

Late last year the new Government indicated its intention to disestablish Te Pukenga in favour of regional polytechnics working within their local communities, and providing for increased local community decision-making.

As a new proposed structure is determined, our dual mission remains clear. We will listen to our industries and be a vocal, and important, advocate for the infrastructure industries in discussions about the future structure of industry training in this country – to ensure your industry voice is heard and the national consistency of apprenticeship training is retained.

And, we will continue to work closely with all stakeholders in our infrastructure sectors of water, civil, energy, and telecommunications to ensure they have access to industry-leading, relevant training programmes.

Having a skilled infrastructure workforce is essential to the health and prosperity of our communities. We saw it clearly through the dramatic weather events of 2023, and we can see it heading into 2024 as communities report challenges with water supply and quality through ageing infrastructure.

Against that backdrop, there continues to be a critical need for more skilled and qualified workers across all the infrastructure industries. Improving the visibility of infrastructure roles, demonstrating the career potential they offer, and promoting pathways into those industries, remain key tools in addressing those shortages.

With that in mind, through 2024, amidst the environment of change in vocational education, we will continue taking enrolments and delivering training. We will continue to seek out opportunities to add value in terms of the support and programmes available to learners – and the supervisors who are critical to their success.

Our focus remains on working with you to grow the capability of individuals and infrastructure companies, through nationally recognised qualifications, and support the required growth in infrastructure.

Building on 2023

Some of the successes we achieved in 2023 leave Connexis in a good position to continue building and future-proofing infrastructure training. Some of those initiatives included the following.

The launch of the e-learning app, Totara

This allows learners to engage in their training via their smartphone to upload evidence and complete assessments.

We are regularly adding more training programmes to the Totara app including recent additions for the civil sector such as: Micro-credential in Infrastructure Worksites (Level 2 and Level 3), New Zealand Certificate in Infrastructure Plant Operations and NZC in Civil Infrastructure Bulk Earthworks.

The Connexis Outward Bound scholarship

Made possible by a grant from the Infrastructure Education & Training Charitable Trust (IRCTC), this scholarship funded nine successful applicants through Outward Bound’s professional leadership programme, equipping them with the skills and confidence required to step toward being a future industry leader.

It has been extremely rewarding to hear the feedback from those who received the scholarships and how their Outward Bound experience is already impacting their working and personal lives. Visit our website at www.connexis.org.nz to read about the experiences of some of the scholarship recipients.

Changes to the NZ Diploma in Drinking Water Level 5

These changes reflect new drinking water legislation and standards. Changes include assessments focused on the operation, maintenance and management of the trainee’s treatment plant, improving the balance of theory and practical task, updating multimedia learning, and adding in pre-assessment checks for learners.

We have particularly enjoyed celebrating the successes of our learners in 2023. Whether it’s the cable jointers and line mechanic crews who competed at a particularly successful Annual Connection event in Invercargill in September, or celebrating our top trainees, at the Annual Connection Excellence Awards, Civil Contractors Training Awards and Water NZ Excellence Awards – it is always rewarding to see our people thriving and inspiring others.

The year ahead

Over 2024 Connexis will continue to build on our strong foundations. We will continue to promote the opportunities offered by infrastructure careers to school students and career changes through well-established and successful programmes such as Gateway and Girls with Hi-vis.

By working directly with leading industry employers these programmes are among our most effective tools at improving the visibility of infrastructure trades to those entering the job market.

Civil Infrastructure – Future of Work

We start the year with approval from NZQA for our new Infrastructure Works Level 2 and Level 3 programmes as part of our Civil Infrastructure Pathway to Industry Project.

The project was in response to the “Developing a Skilled Civil Construction Workforce” report released by Civil Contractors New Zealand.

This report highlighted the need for a coordinated and visible entry pathway into civil infrastructure careers and the opportunity to do this utilising the New Zealand Certificate in Infrastructure Works Level 2 (IW2) and Level 3 (IW3) industry qualifications.

Connexis has led the project, working with key civil infrastructure employers and polytechnic staff to review the IW2 and IW3 with the view to build a flexible pathway that meets employment needs in local communities throughout New Zealand. We look forward to releasing these new programmes out to industry this year.

Changes to Pipeline Construction and Maintenance programme

This year will see the launch of improvements to PCM, otherwise known as the New Zealand Certificate in Infrastructure Works (Pipeline Construction and Maintenance) (Level 4) with strands in Drinking-Water, Stormwater and Wastewater and Trenchless Technologies.

New content in the PCM programme is aimed at meeting industry needs in working with complex water reticulation assets and will upskill workers in areas such as the impacts of erosion and sedimentation, notifiable works and work permits, health and safety and risk assessment, interpreting plans and using them to locate features and protection and support systems.

The programme is supported by the recent release of micro-credentials in CCTV Inspection of Water Services Assets, Horizontal Directional Drilling, Erosion and Sediment Control Plans.

If there is a message for infrastructure learners and their employers to take away as we lean into the business of 2024 it’s that – despite a level of change in the wind, Connexis will continue to enrol learners and provide training in a focused, uninterrupted manner.

Our priority remains the needs of our infrastructure employers and learners. We will continue to advocate for and work toward a vocational training system that supports employers and learners in industry training to address the ongoing skills shortages being felt across industries and regions.

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