2018 saw Competenz support more than 17,000 learners with 21,000 enrolments. We continue to see growth within our apprenticeship numbers with a 24% increase in new enrolments. Our partnerships with 3,500 employers, who invest in training and development of their workforce and ensure that their businesses are fit for the future, are highly valued by Competenz.
There was further investment in our digital capability including the rollout of online training agreements, moving our infrastructure to the cloud and establishing a new Business Intelligence (BI) tool to support the business.
It was also a significant year for our product development teams with several of our programmes being fully redeveloped. This included mechanical engineering – our biggest suite of qualifications – as well as signmaking, print, plastics and forestry apprenticeship programmes.
Another exciting new offering launched in 2018, was our recruitment and job-matching service that matches employers with recruits looking to sign up for an apprenticeship.
In November, we received a Category 1 external evaluation and review (EER) status from NZQA. This rating was awarded after a comprehensive review of our internal processes and thorough consultation with our industry employers. The Competenz team is extremely proud of this significant achievement, as it is further confirmation that we are supporting Kiwi businesses by delivering valuable qualifications to upskill their workforce.
Our sector engagement shifted gear with the focus of conversation now on the future of work, digital disruption and automation in many of our industries. It is essential that we work alongside our industries to ensure they are preparing their businesses and employees for the future and investing in lifelong-learning pathways.
For Competenz to meet our employers’ and learners’ needs, it is critical we invest in our people and ensure they have the skills and capability needed to deliver to our 2020 strategy. We invested in a leadership development programme for all leaders across the organisation, introduced a new individual-development plan framework for all employees and rolled out our Māori cultural competency workshops. A pilot is under development for Pasifika cultural competency to be rolled out in 2019. Recruitment of top talent and developing our people received further investment, to ensure we are working as a truly customer-centric organisation.
Health and safety continues to be a focus for Competenz, we now have two years with ‘zero lost time’ injuries. A full audit of our practices in this area found our processes and systems are sound. Contractor health and safety management and driver safety have both been in the spotlight in 2018.
With a new Government came a vocational education review launched in April 2018, led by the Ministry of Education (MOE). Although no formal consultation was undertaken by the MOE, Competenz ran our own workshops with key industry stakeholders to understand their perceptions of New Zealand’s vocational education system and how it could be improved.
Minister Hipkins announced in December 2018, that the formal polytechnic review and consultation which ran throughout the year, would be combined with the vocational education review. A proposal for the ‘Reform of Vocational Education’ was released in February 2019, which is far more wide reaching than most in the sector expected and will be a focus of next year’s report.
A strong vocational education sector and system is vital to New Zealand and its future economic and social prosperity. We welcome the Minister of Education’s desire to improve vocational education in New Zealand, there is much about the proposed changes that we fully support. However, we are deeply concerned that the removal of the ITO’s role in supporting employers and learners through ‘arranging of training’ will have a direct impact on our employers just when then need the support the most.
Our employers’ and industry stakeholders’ voices have underpinned our submission, where we propose an alternative approach to achieve the reform the minister desires. We have a good relationship with the minister and officials. Our engagement in this reform proposal has been proactive to ensure we have a vocational education system in New Zealand that is fit for the next 30 years.
On behalf of our senior leadership team I would like to thank our Board for their continued support and commitment, and their strong vision to enable us to deliver to our customers. Thanks also go to our passionate team of people who have worked tirelessly to support our employers and learners. Their ability to adapt to the changing landscape and meet the uncertainty of these reforms with an unwavering commitment to our stakeholders is a testament to their professionalism.
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