Shaping the future of Finishing Trades: How Waihanga Ara Rau Strategic Reference Groups make an impact.

We’re helping to address the challenges faced by New Zealand’s construction and infrastructure sectors, including Interior Systems, by understanding what’s important to them and being their voice in the vocational education and training system. One way in which we understand the needs of those in the finishing trades is through our Strategic Reference Groups.

Strategic Reference Groups (SRGs) are integral to Waihanga Ara Rau because they bring together industry experts, stakeholders, and practitioners to provide valuable insights, guidance, and feedback on various industry-related matters.

Here’s how the SRGs set up by Waihanga Ara Rau help address the challenges faced by New Zealand’s construction and infrastructure sectors: 

  • Diverse perspectives: SRGs typically consist of representatives from various facets of the industry, from practitioners to business owners and educators. This diversity ensures a broad range of perspectives, leading to comprehensive solutions.
  • Real-time industry feedback: The rapid evolution of the construction and infrastructure sectors necessitates constant feedback. SRGs, with their members entrenched in day-to-day industry operations, can provide real-time feedback on changes and shifts in the sector.
  • Guidance on curriculum and training: One of the most significant challenges in the construction and infrastructure sector is ensuring that training and education remain relevant. SRGs can guide what skills are currently in demand, what technologies are being adopted, and how training can be optimised to serve these needs.
  • Facilitating collaboration: SRGs act as a platform for collaboration, allowing different industry players to come together to address common challenges, share best practices, and even partner on projects or initiatives.
  • Identification of skill gaps: With a finger on the pulse of the industry, SRGs are uniquely positioned to identify emerging skill gaps quickly. This early identification allows training organisations and educational institutions to adapt their offerings promptly.
  • Advocacy and representation: SRGs ensure that various industry segments are represented and have a voice in shaping policies, programmes, and initiatives. This advocacy ensures that no part of the industry is left behind or overlooked.
  • Prioritising research and insights: SRGs can guide research efforts, highlighting focus areas and ensuring that research initiatives align with the industry’s immediate and future needs.
  • Influencing education funding decisions: With their collective expertise, SRGs advise the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) through Waihanga Ara Rau, ensuring that these decisions reflect the realities and needs of the construction and infrastructure sectors.
  • Promotion of best practices: SRGs can be a platform for sharing and promoting best practices, leading to industry-wide improvements in quality, safety, and efficiency. 

Introducing the Finishing Trades Strategic Reference Group 

In March 2023, Waihanga Ara Rau set up the Finishing Trades Strategic Reference Group (FTSRG), which is co-chaired by Richard Arkinstall, Executive Officer, Association of Wall & Ceiling (AWCI) and Caitlin Adams, Education Manager, National Kitchen & Bathroom Association (NKBA).  The SRG has member representatives from the following industries: 

  • Flooring, including Resin Flooring 
  • Interior Systems 
  • Exterior Plastering 
  • Kitchen and Bathroom Design 
  • Painting and Decorating 
  • Wall and Floor Tiling, including Waterproof Membranes. 

As part of the mahi they have undertaken, the FTSRG has contributed to developing a Workforce Development Plan for Finishing Trades.  This is a living document that looks at past workforce trends, captures a snapshot of the current workforce and paints a picture of the future workforce.  Research undertaken as part of this work identified the following five key themes: 

  • Skills and labour shortage 
  • How the sector is viewed and its reputation 
  • Training and education gaps 
  • A need for more diversity and inclusion 
  • Evolving Regulations. 

The FTSRG is now developing a work plan from the recommendations and actions arising from their research and will also put forward advice to the Tertiary Education Commission. 

More information can be found here:   

Workforce Development Plans – Waihanga Ara Rau 

Finishing Trades Strategic Reference Group – Waihanga Ara Rau