Building the talent pipeline

This article first appeared in Contractor March 2017.

By David Worsnop, CEO, Connexis 

THE HUGE INVESTMENT in our infrastructure means that it is now more important than ever for contracting firms to attract and retain the right people.

Following the $110 billion investment identified in the 30 Year Infrastructure Plan, demand for competent, qualified people is at an all-time high. It is forecast that a further 49,000 people will be required for the infrastructure workforce by 2025, including an additional 19,600 new people needed in the civil sector alone by 2020.

The role of Civil Trades

The launch of Civil Trades was a defining moment for the civil industry and we are now in a better position than ever to meet the skills challenge.

The ability to offer the civil workforce a recognised, skilled trade has been transformational.  For the very first time, the industry is able to provide a consistent standard of excellence for existing employees and an exciting future for those considering a career in it. Organisations who are already embracing Civil Trades have done so passionately.

While the initial phase of Civil Trades concentrated on people already employed in the industry, the second phase will focus on attracting and upskilling new entrants.

The timing to ramp up this second phase is ideal – at the end of last year the government announced its target of 50,000 people in apprenticeships by 2020 while at the same time Connexis launched a suite of New Zealand Apprenticeships for Civil Infrastructure, which can lead to Civil Trades Certification.

During the second phase, our attention will also turn to how we can assist employers in linking with job seekers.

While Civil Trades is a powerful tool in increasing the attractiveness of the industry, emphasis needs to be put on the connection between employers and potential employees, to ensure companies can find the people they need. So how can we help?

Transition to work

Connexis has been partnering with industry on a number of initiatives to bridge the gap between job seekers and employers. One of these is Transition to Work, a pre-employment programme which provides people for new contracts requiring large-scale employment.

The basic premise of the programme is to take people with no industry experience and put them through training to equip them with the skills they need to be work-ready and of value to employers. Each programme is set up to meet a pre-agreed requirement for a specific contract (usually 10 to 20 people) and is facilitated by Connexis.

Participants undergo a stringent recruitment process and drug testing. Those selected attend a residential training course focusing on compliance training, technical training and life skills. On successful completion of the course, participants are placed in full time employment where they will work towards a Level 2 New Zealand Certificate in Infrastructure Works. While pre-employment programmes are nothing new, the introduction of Civil Trades means employers can now offer a structured career pathway, with the option for their employees to progress to a New Zealand Apprenticeship and ultimately Civil Trades Certification.

A number of programmes targeting Maori and Pasifika funded by Te Puni Kokiri have already been run successfully around the country.

And by the time you read this, a pilot programme funded by the Ministry of Social Development will be underway with the goal of providing 15 people for a major North Island project.

Initiatives such as Transition to Work are a win-win for everyone involved. Employers benefit from getting the right people at the right time, while recruitment and selection is taken care of on their behalf. The individuals involved gain skills and employment, as well as the opportunity to work towards a recognised trade. The economy gets a boost through the employment of local people, and most significantly, the industry benefits from the boost to the talent pipeline.

Time to get on board

Connexis remains committed to working with the civil industry to build the talent pipeline. Whether you’re looking to upskill your existing staff or attract new talent then we can help.

Industry demand and ongoing government support bodes well for programmes such as Transition to Work, and we are confident that it will pave the way for more in the future. In addition, with all of the supporting mechanisms now in place, there has never been a better time to get on board with Civil Trades.

Over the coming year we will be putting additional resource into refining and streamlining our administrative processes, enabling us to meet customer needs more effectively than ever before.

Ultimately, we are all responsible for meeting the skills challenge and future proofing the civil industry. If you aren’t already on board with Civil Trades, we look forward to welcoming you.

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