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Design for success

The sector must invest now to secure a workforce of tomorrow that has the skills to roll out transformational change at a national and regional level. Through equitable procurement practices and by investing in local talent pipelines, communities and smaller employers will gain the resources needed to build local, highly skilled workforces. Achieving access to a granular level of visibility on facility and workforce data will help activate a long-term, values aligned strategy to strengthen recruitment, skills and training throughout the sector and across New Zealand.


Invest in talent and communities:

The water services sector comprises a multitude of relatively small industry providers, each presenting local opportunities for new talent pathways. Supporting employers to commit to workforce growth by allocating funds (regardless of reform) to the talent supply chain and establishing community-level, localised, sustainable workforce development will be a cornerstone for industry prosperity. Increase industry reach by connecting and partnering with influential organisations, such as the Ministry for Pacific Peoples, who are seeking ways to upskill and activate meaningful careers for a young generation of tagata Pasifika. 

Build trust with small water suppliers:

There is a growing need to mitigate reform anxiety by providing concise, easy-to-follow support material that helps small water suppliers to understand their part in the journey and how they might meet compliance requirements. These organisations are seeking inclusion and a two-way platform that clearly communicates requirements and builds nationwide visibility on their barriers to compliance. Look to overseas examples to bolster and improve current efforts to build a single, centralised database of all water suppliers, personnel and skills to enable effective management of qualifications, regulations and compliance. 

Build and leverage data:

Industry interviews highlighted a desire to enable better visibility and planning by populating a purpose-built, accessible database containing up-to-date information about all water sector employees and their skills. Exemplar frameworks, for example British Columbia’s Environmental Operators Certification Program (EOCP), benefit from matching the technical complexity of facilities with levels of operator proficiency through a content management system. Extending such a system to include all sector roles will provide the backbone for the support, training and tools that will further professionalise water careers, will enable activation of the Water Services Act authorisation framework and improve decision-making around successful people management. 

Create a values driven sector:

Globally, our research shows that successful water sectors are driven by workforces whose values align with those of the sector as a whole. Sector alignment on shared values is a foundation to building long-term trust, promoting consistent and purposeful communication within the sector, and to selling the experience to those outside it. Positive emotional contracts can be established by promoting (and enacting) values around Te Mana o te Wai, community and environmental stewardship, inclusivity and enjoyable workplaces. Regardless of whether or not employees stay in the industry long term, lifelong ambassadors are created.

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