Move towards trade certification for infrastructure workers seen as milestone for industry

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The civil infrastructure industry has taken a major step forward towards establishing a recognised trade qualification for its workers.

Unlike building, plumbing and electrical workers, people in the civil infrastructure industry in jobs such as road building and pipe laying have no industry-wide and transferrable trade qualification.

A Civil Trades Certification Board has been established to oversee the initiation of the new trade regime and the registration of civil infrastructure tradespeople.

The Board had its inaugural meeting in Wellington in January.

Wide industry support

The initiative has wide industry support, and is being promoted through Connexis, the industry training organisation for the infrastructure industry, along with SCIRT (Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team) who are providing a project manager to help the trade certification get under way.

Inaugural chairman of the Civil Trades Certification Board, Dave Connell, says taking the first step towards trades certification for civil infrastructure is exciting but well overdue.

“Trade certification will fundamentally change how the civil infrastructure industry works.

“We currently rely on labourers and plant operators supervised by foremen, and have work signed off by engineers,” Mr Connell says.

“A regulated trades regime will see certified tradespeople take ownership and provide the craftsmanship required for delivery of a product or construction activity. It will be game changing for the industry and the people who work in it,” he says.

The Civil Trades Certification Board has been officially established to maintain and govern the trades certification regime on behalf of Civil Contractors New Zealand (CCNZ).

This organisation represents contractors who carry out the country’s civil infrastructure construction and maintenance work.

More than 40,000 workers employed

CCNZ estimates the civil construction sector carries out more than $12 billion of work annually, and employs in excess of 40,000 workers.

Mr Connell says the trade certification will empower and advantage workers who will have a recognised and transferrable trade behind them.

He says for employers it means more engaged workers who are more productive and safer, and with an expected outcome of less on-job re-work required.

Significant milestone

Connexis ITO chief executive Helmut Modlik says the establishment of the Trade Certification Board is a significant milestone.

“Introducing a trade regime for civil infrastructure has been something that has been wanted by the industry for a long time,” Mr Modlik says.

“A number of factors, including the Christchurch rebuild and the increasing need for experienced and qualified infrastructure workers across New Zealand, has meant tangible progress has now been made.

“This is a significant step for the industry and its workers,” he says.