Positive Influence: Training Advisory Group

Positive Influence: Training Advisory Group

SCIRT, Civil Contractors New Zealand and Connexis drove the creation of an industry-wide Training Advisory Group.

In early 2013, SCIRT's Training Team established a SCIRT-wide Training Forum Group.

It was made up of a wide range of skilled operational leaders, who, as Mason Tolerton, SCIRT's training and peak performance manager, described, knew "what good looks like, in both infrastructure work and how to train a crew to do it".

The group proved invaluable to the ongoing development and improvement of qualifications suited to the civil infrastructure industry. As qualifications were developed, these experts took them to workers on-site, to quickly review and provide feedback to Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) on their practicality and usefulness. The forum also gave SCIRT trainers feedback about risks and needs for on-job training and short courses.

The Training Forum Group ceased in 2015, as people moved on to other companies and roles and the SCIRT training programme was intentionally wound down.

Through the success of this group, and SCIRT's involvement in the development of a civil trade certification (see story about Civil Trade Certification), the power and benefits of industry-wide advisory group involvement in qualification development were highlighted.

SCIRT was uniquely placed to speed up and improve qualification creation, as it spoke with a shared voice about the needs of the industry.

As SCIRT's training programme wound down, SCIRT's Training Team wasn't able to provide as much support to Connexis and other ITOs.

Tolerton realised that when SCIRT came to an end, there would be no organisation to provide support or input from a nationwide, industry-wide perspective to the wide range of organisations interested in delivering infrastructure or safety training in New Zealand.

In mid-2016, Tolerton and the chairman and president of Civil Contractors New Zealand discussed the need to hold a meeting with a range of industry representatives.

In July 2016, Tolerton and SCIRT executive general manager Ian Campbell, along with representatives of medium-sized civil contracting businesses, the president and chief executive of Civil Contractors New Zealand and the CEO of Connexis, held a meeting to discuss the elements of a training advisory group, and create an outline.

Civil Contractors New Zealand and Connexis took this proposal to their annual national body meeting. At that meeting, there was endorsement of the need to have an industry-wide Training Advisory Group that could speak on behalf of the civil construction industry to ITOs (and other organisations with a desire to improve and benefit industry-wide training).

The Training Advisory Group would aim to benefit workers in the civil infrastructure industry by improving training, through ensuring consistency of approach, via industry alignment and collaboration. The group would have a mix of safety specialists, learning and development and training professionals, operational practitioners, and people with influence within civil contracting companies (senior operations managers or similar). If information or advice were needed by training organisations about the latest methods, and it was not immediately available within the training group, those people would be able to get the information.

Additional information about the Training Advisory Group can be obtained by contacting Civil Contractors New Zealand.

Lessons learnt:

  • Involve the right people: Tertiary-qualified people often aren't the best individuals to provide feedback on qualification development because they're removed from what is happening on-site ("what good looks like"), whereas skilled site supervisors and crew leaders are.
  • Get support from the top: SCIRT's Training Forum Group lost its effectiveness when long-serving operational people left for other roles. Having the support of industry leaders and managers who understand and believe in the long-term benefits of training can help to mitigate the loss of team members.
  • Focus on training, not assessment: It is easy to default to assessment rather than training. Industry is in the best position to advocate for this.