I would like to acknowledge the uncertainty currently faced by everyone in our global community due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time of writing, this event continues to eclipse any challenges our people and our industries have experienced. My thoughts go out to all those who have been so severely affected by personal and professional loss during this time.
2019 in review
2019 began with the news of the Government’s Reform of Vocational Education (RoVE) proposal that recommended the disestablishment of all 11 industry training organisations (ITOs), including Competenz. In August 2019, it was announced the proposal was going ahead, largely unchanged.
While Competenz supported Minister Hipkins' desire to strengthen the vocational education sector and develop a unified funding system, with our industries’ support we strongly opposed the removal of the ITOs’ role. Throughout the year, extensive consultation with our stakeholders and government officials has ensured our collective voice was heard to help inform the new system. The Competenz Senior Leadership Team has also contributed to many of the design and transition activities in the RoVE programme.
At the time of writing, six Workforce Development Councils (WDCs) are being formed to take over standards setting responsibilities from ITOs by June 2021, and our arranging training functions will be handed over to the New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology (NZIST) prior to December 2022. However, for now, there is no interruption to the services Competenz provides to our employers, trainees and apprentices and all qualifications remain fully supported by our team and will continue to do so right through to the time of transition.
Despite the reforms creating a wave of uncertainty for our people, I am extremely proud of, and thankful for, their continued commitment to on-the-job training. They have supported nearly 17,000 learners with almost 21,000 enrolments. Partnerships with 3,500 employers who invest in training and development of their workforce, are more important than ever in this changing education landscape.
Innovation continues with a new virtual reality training partnership agreement for our level 2 manufacturing qualification, and a focus on the skills shift needed in our manufacturing sector to support industry 4.0 with an exciting new pilot programme.
Our product development team reviewed and updated several qualifications, and supported two areas of industry new to Competenz. Changes were introduced in fire protection, health and safety, metal forming, forestry, print and packaging and locksmithing, while the protective coatings and prefabricated housing manufacture sectors saw our level 2 manufacturing qualification introduced. Many employers and assessors were involved in the review and development of these programmes, they are essential to ensuring we are keeping pace with the needs of our industries.
The Competenz recruitment and job-matching service was relaunched and expanded with great success, matching many young people with our employers and providing pathways into apprenticeships.
Industry engagement was more important than ever and it continued through the lens of reform to ensure our industries are well represented in the new world of vocational education and were fully informed of what these changes mean for them. A significant involvement from our industries was needed with consultation on proposed changes, then further consultation on the development of the new world once the reforms were confirmed. I am very grateful to all our industry partners who have given their time and continue to do so to support the reforms.
For Competenz to meet our employers’ and learners’ needs, it is critical we invest in supporting and developing our people. This year, we focused on development for our Field and Customer Experience Teams rolling out our Frontline Capability Programme. We also launched our People Support Programme (PSP) in response to the RoVE announcements, to maintain engagement and offer support through an unsettling period, including financial wellbeing advice and career planning. Later rebranded as ‘Manaakitia’, the wider programme supports our people to be as fit for the future as possible and focuses on making Competenz a great place to work.
Health and safety continued to be a focus, with driving being our most critical risk with much of our workforce covering significant distances on New Zealand roads in company vehicles. This year, we rolled out an updated Driving Policy with a Driver Scorecard that focuses on safe driving behaviour and implemented GPS monitoring of all company vehicles. All drivers were also encouraged to take part in external ‘Safe Driving’ training. Our Wellbeing Committee also launched our internal framework using the Te Whare Tapa Whā model, which focuses on the four cornerstones of physical, spiritual, family and mental health and wellbeing.
On behalf of our Senior Leadership Team, I would like to thank our Board – in this challenging year of reform they have provided unwavering support, commitment and vision. Thanks also go to our incredible team of people who haven’t missed a beat in ensuring our employers and learners are fully supported.
Their ability to adapt to the changing landscape and meet the uncertainty of these reforms with a resolute commitment to our stakeholders has been outstanding. A final thank you to our employers who engage and invest in training, our learners who strive to grow their skills, and our assessors and training providers – without you we could not achieve a skilled and capable workforce.
Chief Executive Officer