Workforce skill needs waiting on ‘Shovel-Ready’ decision

Prue Feely News

The Government’s Budget investment in vocational education and infrastructure has been welcomed by the industry who are waiting to hear which shovel-ready projects will be chosen.

Connexis supports training for the Infrastructure Industry, and Chief Executive Toby Beaglehole says, “This investment will provide much needed support to the Infrastructure industry to build the skilled workforce required to undertake the new projects selected.”

The Government kick-starting work on major new infrastructure projects around the country is great news, but at the same time it does present challenges, especially around people and skills.

“The biggest skill gap facing the industry is at the supervisory level and this will expand as the workforce grows.  So there’s a real need to upskill those within the sector as well as reskilling those outside of the sector as we bring them into the sector,” Toby says.

Connexis Director Roger McRae adds, “In terms of the additional $3 billion investment in infrastructure, and in particular the shovel-ready projects, there is an immediate need for developing appropriate supervisory and specialist skills to support the nature of the projects selected.”

Toby says that the investment in apprenticeships, trades training and Maori trades training announced in the Budget will support the labour market shifts, and its effectiveness will depend on the detail which is yet to be released for some components.

“The funding system announced by Government will need to be supportive of the fast, flexible and scaleable approach that allows for easy transition of workers between training and employment.  The sooner we know which projects are being selected, the sooner we can get that training underway.”

As part of the vocational education sector, Connexis sees industry training as integral in supporting the workforce changes that COVID-19 has brought to New Zealand. 

“It’s a chance to upskill our people and utilise skills across industries.  With border closures restricting the supply of overseas workers who represent 6.5% of the construction workforce, the need to build a local workforce with the required skills in a timely manner is essential,” Toby says.