Pioneering efforts of the New Zealand Piling Federation result in industry-driven qualification overhaul

The New Zealand Federation of Pilings Specialists (FPS) has been working tirelessly to improve safety and skills within the industry. Jon Faber, Chair of the Federation, and Paul Berriman from Brian Perry Civil and Chair of the FPS Education Committee shed light on their collaboration with Waihanga Ara Rau to review the piling qualification.

Jon says, “The New Zealand Piling Federation is still in its early stages, and we’re striving to attract as many members as possible. During our first four years, we have made significant progress, with around ten companies actively involved. Membership is strong in Auckland and growing in the regions as efforts are underway to expand our reach and foster collaboration among around 3,000 industry professionals working on the ground.

“The industry has grown very close-knit over time and has a strong sense of camaraderie along with effective collaboration.”

Paul Berriman emphasised that their objective is to raise the bar regarding safety and skills. The catalyst for the comprehensive review of the piling qualifications emerged from the realisation that the existing qualification framework fell short of meeting industry requirements. Initially, the qualification predominantly focused on operators, inadvertently excluding other crucial roles within the field. Recognising the need for a more inclusive and fit-for-purpose qualification, the NZPF formally engaged and collaborated with Waihanga Ara Rau to expedite the review process earlier than it was initially scheduled for in 2024.

The response was positive, and the review was brought forward, marking a significant step toward improving the qualification. The partnership was established after meetings with representatives from Waihanga Ara Rau Engagement & Partnerships and Qualifications teams. A specialised piling advisory group was established, ensuring broad participation from industry representatives, including those outside FPS.

Paul says, “FPS has been working closely with Waihanga Ara Rau to address what needs to change in the qualification. The main aim is to develop more unit standards and enhance the qualification to not only benefit operators but also every professional working in the field. Prior to this review project, you had to be operating some of the large plant to be able to get through the whole qualification, so some people could never complete it as that type of work wasn’t included in their role. Now we’ll see many more companies signing up their staff to go through it, thanks to the changes. Waihanga Ara Rau provided guidance and support, helping us navigate the review process and identify areas of improvement.

“Our efforts to review the piling qualification have gained momentum and support within the industry. We’ll continue to work together with Waihanga Ara Rau as we strive to make significant changes that align with industry requirements and improve the overall standard of safety and skills in the piling industry.”

The collaborative process for reviewing the piling qualification sets a positive example for others, emphasising the importance of continuous improvement and the value of strong partnerships in achieving industry-wide advancements.

The new unit standards will ensure inclusivity, enabling individuals at all levels of the industry to pursue and obtain a recognised qualification. This change not only promotes a sense of professional growth but will also go a long way towards attracting school leavers and aspiring professionals to consider the piling industry as a viable career path.