By Philip Aldridge, Chief Executive, Waihanga Ara Rau

Waihanga Ara Rau Construction and Infrastructure Workforce Development Council is an industry-led government enabled organisation established on 4 October 2021 as a key part of the Reform of Vocational Education.

We’re the voice of the construction and infrastructure sector including civil infrastructure; construction, masonry and finishing trades; electrical trades, plumbing trades; access trades; energy and telecommunication; three waters; and related services.

As the Chief Executive of Waihanga Ara Rau, I’m proud to be part of transformative change that will help our employers, learners and communities to thrive.

Role and functions

When the wheels were set in motion for a re-imagined vocational education sector, there was a clear drive to make sure that historically underrepresented voices – like industry – were not only present in the new system but also given tangible opportunities to help shape the future of skills and training to reflect their needs, now, and in the future.

Collaboration is at the heart of our mahi and it’s Waihanga Ara Rau’s role to make sure industry has greater leadership and influence across vocational education. We are also focused on creating partnerships across industry, government and the education sector that deliver transformation.

Embedded in our ways of working are key functions that enable us to focus on industry needs:

  • Skills Leadership: Identifying industry skill needs and advocating for them to be met now and in the future by providing advice to TEC and other agencies on key focus areas, and through the creation of Workforce Development Plans.
  • Qualifications: Developing qualifications and other credentials and shaping the curriculum on behalf of industry.
  • Quality Assurance: Moderating assessment against industry standards to ensure they are delivered to a high standard and on a consistent basis.
  • Advice: Providing advice to TEC on investments in vocational education.
  • Endorsement: Endorsing learning programmes that lead to industry qualifications.
  • Brokerage: Providing employers with brokerage and advisory services.
  • Advocacy: Acting as the voice of industry to represent their interests and as a system leader to provide input into the initiatives and policies that matter most to industry.

Catalysing change

With changes happening all around us at pace – emerging technologies, the climate crisis, COVID-19, rapidly evolving ways of working, and global challenges and priorities, to name just a few – it’s our role to help industry rise to the occasion.

We recently partnered with industry and a number of strategic partners to launch our Re-Energise – Ngā Mahi a Māui report; a deep dive into Aotearoa New Zealand’s Electricity Supply Industry (ESI) talent shortage.

A key intention was to bring the ESI’s industry’s fragmented career pathways into sharp focus. Quite simply, we can’t wait another day to start addressing inconsistencies in the training methods, standards and competencies across the industry which make it difficult for workers to move around the ESI and hard to showcase career paths to young people.

The work of Waihanga Ara Rau will help to address these issues, bringing consistency to industry standards and learning outcomes, making sure they are applied across the country, and across all modes of learning. This means learners will get the right skills and employers will have access to the right people.

In March, we also released another major report – We Are Water – Ko Wai Tātau Three Waters Workforce Development Strategy which outlines four strategic goals underpinned by 14 actionable recommendations on how to transform the three waters workforce to support a thriving future industry.

Research for the report included an environmental scan of the sector, investigating what inspires people to consider joining the water industry and how to attract new people into the sector without relying on immigration. The ultimate goal is to deliver a Workforce Development Strategy that supports the Three Waters sector to understand what its workforce needs are for the next 5 to 10 years.

To help the mahi we are doing fulfil its potential, Waihanga Ara Rau needs qualified and experienced people from a diverse range of backgrounds. We continue to onboard inspiring people so we can deliver on our core functions.

To be a true voice of industry, our team is focused on discovering what industry needs and how we can help to make this happen. There’s a huge opportunity in front of us and we are committed to realising it.

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