In January 2012 a capability analysis identified the SCIRT programme needed 600 more operational team members than were available locally. This raised a significant programme risk of having a workforce with many new entrants and under-skilled resources.
The risk was presented to the SCIRT Board, along with a proposal to establish a SCIRT Training Centre as a mitigation measure. The proposal also aligned with the Alliance Objective of "purposefully lifting the capability of the sector-wide workforce". The Board agreed to the proposal, and the Training Centre was established, staffed by Workplace Trainers and led by a Training Manager.
The Centre was initially resourced with two Workplace Trainers, but as the programme ramped up and Delivery Teams and subcontractors recognised the value of training, six trainers were engaged. Trainers were chosen for their patience, credibility (minimum of 10 years' industry experience - the average was 30 years), skill at influencing and marketing themselves (they had to be able to prove the benefit of taking operators away from work for training), ability to identify and adapt for people with learning problems (46% of the industry are numeracy and literacy challenged), and ability to learn and grow as a trainer (e.g. conducting fair and impartial assessment, providing constructive feedback).
Priority was given to on-site training, because studies have found that individuals obtain 70 per cent of their knowledge from on the job experiences, 20 per cent from interactions with others and only 10 per cent from formal classroom training. SCIRT Trainers routinely delivered sessions to teams on site off the back of a ute with a television and generator. Classroom based training was also delivered, but always with a practical element included. Training was always modified to ensure it was fit for purpose. One example of this was how SCIRT tailored the industry-wide Site Safe course to make it applicable to the civil infrastructure industry, with regard to risks and delivery.
Some of the achievements of SCIRT's Training Team:
- More than 7400 attendees at SCIRT short courses, including Site Safe, Safety Observer (spotter), Cable Location and Slinging and Lifting.
- Development of trade certification pathways in partnership with national industry training organisations, from Level 2 to Level 4. This included the creation of a Civil Trade Qualification (see story about Civil Trade Certification for more information).
- More than 50 Level 4 Crew Leadership Qualification completions.
- At times up to 24 per cent of the operational workforce were engaged in National Certificate training - the industry average is only 6 per cent.
- More than 160 people completed National Certificates, and at least twice that started National Certificate training before moving on to other organisations or careers.
- Creation of an industry Training Advisory Group, which was made up of skilled superintendents and training professionals from organisations spanning the industry. This group continued SCIRT's legacy of understanding the industry as a whole and will continue to advocate for and develop training appropriate and current to the industry (see story about Training Advisory Group for more information).
- The recruitment and use of a Traffic Management Trainer who worked on site upskilling traffic management team members in order to increase their competency and safety on site.
- The Training centre grew the training capability of the Civil Construction industry by having more than twelve trainers with industry experience. These trainers all undertook NZQA 4098 - assess unit standards training and many completed a NZQA National Certificate in Adult Education Level Four.
Some of the lessons learnt:
- Tailor training to the trainees (SCIRT's operational team started work at 6.30am and weren't used to long periods of classroom training).
- Do on the job training (on site), so trainees can apply their training immediately and site supervisors are happy as time off work for training is kept to a minimum.
What the SCIRT Training Team would do differently:
- Deliver crew leadership training early on in a rebuild programme, rather than at the mid-point so that the benefits can be realised sooner and a mentoring programme developed amongst crew leaders.
- Rotate trainers every 9-12 months, to keep training fresh and to incorporate up-to-date knowledge and technologies into training. This would also upskill the crew leadership workforce to become trainers and site leaders.