Improving skills the name of the game

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It takes skills and skilled people to run a successful construction business. You need business acumen, sound accounting and finance skills and the ability to manage workload and staff, to say nothing of the skills required to actually build something.

The Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey, involving 13 countries and released in December 2007, found 800,000 of working Kiwis do not have all the skills they need for their working life.
To address this, the Government is releasing a new strategy later this year aimed at improving the literacy, language and numeracy skills of the workforce. This will include increased learning opportunities, and will help meet the literacy, language and numeracy needs of the contemporary workplace.

Recent changes to the way tertiary education in New Zealand is planned and funded will improve this situation. The changes will ensure industry training organisations, polytechs, private training providers, wananga and universities are more able to respond to the wide-ranging education and training needs of industries such as construction.

The idea is to build on the kind of connection that already takes place between industry and tertiary education and training through the 40 industry training organisations that operate throughout New Zealand.

Greater connection throughout the tertiary education sector is a way of ensuring that the programmes and qualifications on offer are relevant, underpin productivity growth, and provide a return on government and, indeed, industry investment. This is one of the key drivers behind recent changes to the way tertiary education is planned, funded and monitored.

The TEC made more than $2.2 billion of investment decisions late last year as part of the new way of looking at tertiary education. One of these decisions was to fund the BETA cluster project through funding provided to the Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO) as the lead ITO.

The BETA cluster comprises the Building and Construction ITO, NZ Flooring ITO, Joinery and Glazing ITO, Infratrain, Building Services ITO, Creative Trades ITO, Electrotechnology ITO and the Plumbing, Gasfitting and Drainlaying ITO.

The cluster is developing a construction industry forecasting model which will provide better information in areas such as current and future skill needs, and trends within the wider construction industry.

As you can imagine, the TEC is very keen to see more of this type of collaboration and future thinking taking place within industries across New Zealand.
On the skills improvement front, the Modern Apprenticeships programme is a successful initiative funded and administered by the TEC. The programme is a work-based training scheme for 16 to 21 year olds that allows them to work, learn and earn at the same time.

The main difference between the Modern Apprenticeships programme and the construction industry’s own training programme is the ongoing support of a Modern Apprenticeships coordinator, who can support employers in areas such as the recruitment of trainees, and help them identify trainees’ specific training needs in areas such as literacy and numeracy.

For an employer, talking to a Modern Apprenticeships coordinator is a good first step towards taking on a Modern Apprentice.
If you would like to make contact with a coordinator, please call 0800 427 773 or alternatively, find out more about the programme by visiting www.modern-apprenticeships.govt.nz.