New products

2020 was a big year for our standard-setting function, that is, the team and stakeholders who review the qualifications and unit standards used in our training programmes.

In 2020 we reviewed

43 qualifications

and almost

1,500 unit standards
across 15 sectors

Including butchery, print, engineering, food and beverage processing, general manufacturing, furniture, maritime, rail, mechanical building services, plastics manufacturing, forestry, wood manufacturing, and textiles.

Each qualification listed on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF) must be reviewed at least once every five years to keep pace with legislative change, industry practice, and ensure learners and employers’ current and future needs are met.

We reviewed 43 qualifications and almost 1,500 unit standards during 2020, across 15 sectors, including butchery, print, engineering, food and beverage processing, general manufacturing, furniture, maritime, rail, mechanical building services, plastics manufacturing, forestry, wood manufacturing, and textiles.

Our team regularly reviews existing qualifications and creates new qualifications, both in response to changing industry needs, and in compliance with the New Zealand Qualifications Authority’s (NZQA) five-yearly review requirements.

Several other initiatives in 2020 saw Competenz continue to provide a high level of tailored support for both learners and employers.

Dairy systems

A slight modification to dairy systems programmes in 2020 saw a change in the course’s electrical component, which requires learners to carry out work associated with installing, maintaining, servicing, and commissioning milk harvesting plant and equipment.

Previously a compulsory element of the dairy systems qualifications, this was made elective and is now optional for learners enrolled in the affected programmes.

This update applied to both the Level 4 New Zealand Apprenticeship in Dairy Systems (Engineering), Milking Systems, and the Level 4 New Zealand Apprenticeship in Dairy Systems (Engineering), Pumping Systems programmes.

Other updates to products in the dairy systems sector included:

  • A new transition plan to progress learners
  • More support tools to guide learners through their first block course
  • All learning and assessment resources were consolidated into Canvas (our cloud-based learning management system), for ease of use and access
  • Greater flexibility with an increase in the number of elective unit standards, enabling the programme to be tailored to learner and employer needs.

Digital literacy launch with Buckley Systems

In 2019, Competenz partnered with The Manufacturers’ Network, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), education organisations, and industry experts to focus on skill gaps and opportunities in the New Zealand manufacturing industry. These gaps are thought to be brought on by Industry 4.0, the fourth industrial revolution driving rapid technological change in manufacturing globally.

MBIE-funded research was conducted by McKinsey and Company across the wider manufacturing industries on behalf of the Future of Work Tripartite Forum. The outcome and findings of this research validated the group’s focus areas, and the ‘Skills Shift Initiatives’ were developed. Collectively, these initiatives identified the core skills shifts New Zealand manufacturing businesses need to integrate to grow and thrive in Industry 4.0.

One of the Skills Shift Initiatives aimed to improve digital literacy skills in New Zealand’s manufacturing sector. The programme was approved and piloted with Buckley Systems at the end of 2020 and is to be launched as a formalised micro-credential in early 2021.

By improving digital capability around electronic workflows, data usage, and other general digital functionalities, this programme aims to prepare manufacturing workers for a future where digital technologies will play a much more important role in workplaces.

NZQA review of Competenz moderation practices

In 2019 ITOs met to co-design a more comprehensive national external moderation process in conjunction with the NZQA. This new process would replace an older reporting system that provided little insight to drive continuous improvement to external moderation practices.

NZQA agreed to undertake a regular evaluative process and Competenz underwent this evaluation during 2020.

Overall, NZQA was satisfied with Competenz practices and process and gave us a rating of “Good”. Feedback from NZQA indicated that while Competenz operated under strong policies and procedures, we could be more flexible and targeted in the level of sampling we expect from external providers. It also identified that we could strengthen our mentoring and coaching for our providers.

Engagement in the evaluative process and NZQA’s formal feedback is valuable and enables us to identify priorities for continuous improvement to our external moderation practices.

New engineering credits launched in schools

Six new unit standards in mechanical engineering were launched by Competenz in 2020 as part of a new Mechanical Engineering Project Suite.

For the first time, secondary students were offered school-based level 3 mechanical engineering learning, creating a solid pathway into mechanical engineering apprenticeships and other training programmes.

Competenz CEO Fiona Kingsford says the new unit standards have been specifically designed for school students and the school environment. Their introduction will go some way to encouraging young people to explore training opportunities in an industry that is experiencing skills shortages. It is estimated there will be more than 7,500 job openings across New Zealand in the mechanical engineering sector in the next five years.

“The unit standards have been developed in consultation with technology teachers and industry to ensure they are relevant to what industry needs now and in the future. Previously, students had an ‘engineering taster’ at level 2, but now with the level 3 pathway, they can go into more depth and gain experience, knowledge and skills that are relevant to industry.” “The new standards will give students a better understanding of the trade and the industry, and hopefully result in an uptake of apprenticeship opportunities when they (the students) leave school,” says Fiona Kingsford.

The six new unit standards are supported with a suite of resources for high school technology teachers also developed by Competenz, with theory-based drawing, a machining project and a fabrication project at both levels 2 and 3. “Teachers have the autonomy to deliver and assess these standards themselves as they have been pre-moderated, which makes the process very simple. Technology teachers can use the projects and resources provided or develop their own projects and resources for use within the unit standards. It’s a very flexible approach,” adds Fiona Kingsford.

Resources to support the standards include student and teacher guidebooks, project exemplars, material lists, a drawing pack, step-by-step instructions, model answers and assessment guides.