A degree apprenticeship model will help solve a New Zealand skills shortage.

As with many countries worldwide, New Zealand is facing a critical shortage of infrastructure asset managers, engineers who understand the nature and infrastructure of the country and who can draw on interdisciplinary knowledge to solve the problems that arise from infrastructure deterioration as well as future needs and natural disasters. At present, New Zealand does not train engineers specifically for this growing niche, but rather traditional civil, electrical and mechanical engineers “grow” into the role through their own experience on city and district councils. 

Otago Polytechnic's Richard Nyhof and Hana Cadzow have collaborated with James Mackay and other researchers at the Wellington Institute of Technology (WelTec) to develop a pilot curriculum for a three year engineering technologist apprenticeship degree in New Zealand. The focus is on infrastructure asset management engineering. Research with an initial sample of 20 engineers based across New Zealand was used as a reference group to draw up an apprenticeship standard that would outline the desirable knowledge, skills and behaviours of the degree candidates. This pool of engineers was then expanded and the expertise of this wider group used to drive the development of the curriculum. The expanded group included both city and district engineers, engineering consultants and contractors and also engineering educators from the polytechnic sector in New Zealand. 

The outcome of this research has been the development of a new Degree Apprenticeship model – the first such model in New Zealand. The delivery model, structure, and end point assessment are all modelled on international programmes adapted to suit the New Zealand asset management context. The benefits of making advanced study an option for learners within their workplaces are expected to be substantial in terms of qualification uptake, quality of education delivery, and the up-skilling of the workforce. The new programme is focussed on the needs of the engineering sector and will address a critical shortage that is a looming national problem.  Work continues this year on finalisation and implementation of the programme which it is hoped will be available in 2020.

May 2019

Image credit: Benchill, used under Creative Commons Licence Attribution Share-Alike CC BY SA 3.0