Warwick Quinn BCITO

More than 75 people have been involved with seven working groups looking at the skills and capabilities the Institute will need in order to create the new world of learning. This work will provide an essential resource for the incoming Council of the new national Institute.

In the coming weeks we’ll meet a cross-section of those involved, hearing about their reflections on the journey to date.

(Please note that these views represent the individual, and not the working group they participated in, the IST Establishment Unit, their organisation, or the wider vocational education and training sector.)

Warwick Quinn, Chief Executive Officer, Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO)

Working group: Work-Based Learning Development

1. What is your role and how do you participate in the vocational education and training sector?

I’m the Chief Executive of the Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO). BCITO is has responsibility for 15 sectors in the building and construction industry. We work for and on behalf of these sectors to establish nationally-registered standards, develop qualifications and associated resources, organise training and assessment, mentor and support trainees, apprentices and their employers, and provide leadership on skills issues to the building and construction industry. We currently have in excess of 13,000 active apprentices and trainees across the trades we cover.

2. What’s a little-known fact / something you wish people knew about your organisation?

BCITO was one of the first ITOs to be established in 1991. But back in those days we were known as the New Zealand Federated Builders’ and Contractors Industrial Association of Employers Incorporated, or as I like to say, the NZFBCIAEI - we needed very large business cards! The change to BCITO was officially recognised in April 2001.

3. Tell us about someone who positively influenced own vocational learner journey and what was it that most impacted you?

Several people were influential in changing my career trajectory. When I was Valuer General my two CEs at LINZ and the State Services Commissioner recommended I undertake further higher level (non-technical) education. I distinctly remember sitting down and mapping out the plan and what programme of study I would complete.

Without their support, encouragement, and investment, I often wonder where I might have otherwise ended up. When I reflect on what has impacted me most, I think it boils down to a few things (for me anyway):

  • Never stop learning – lifelong learning, personal growth and development is essential
  • Support and guidance – having the support and guidance of mentors gives you the energy and confidence to succeed.

This is why my role at BCITO is so fulfilling and rewarding. I can see the impact on people’s lives that we make every day. We have a BCITO catch phrase - “We’re Building People”. This has two meanings, both of which are very true. The most obvious meaning is true because many of us at BCITO have worked and flourished in and around the construction sector. Building runs in our blood.

The second meaning is much more profound. It literally means that we build people, help them grow through the personal transformation we embark on with them. We start with often apprehensive people who are setting out on a new phase in life. Sure, we produce people with certificates that say they have mastered the skills of their chosen trade, but it’s what’s behind that certificate that we treasure most.

What we have really built are careers, entrepreneurs, professionals and families; confident and self-respecting people.  We try and inspire our employers to be a little better, and our apprentices to reach a little further, setting them on a path for a good life. Therefore, we don’t simply churn out ‘building people’ - that is, people who build. We build the people who are qualified, capable, successful and confident contributors to New Zealand and being part of that journey is truly rewarding.

This reflects my own career development and progression and why what BCITO does fits so well with me. It also captures the culture and attitudes that prevail within Work-Based Learning (WBL) that RoVE cannot afford to lose.

4. What made you want to participate in a ‘Mobilising the New World’ working group?

In our briefing to the incoming Minister in December 2017, BCITO had identified a number of areas in the work-based learning space that we believed needed to be addressed. RoVE provides us with the opportunity to do that and has the potential to set the vocational system up for a step change in service and performance through the NZIST.

The ITP and ITO sectors are completely different beasts that have operational models and clients that are unique to each other. Over the years both have matured and evolved as required and the complexities and arrangements within each part of the sector means it is impossible for these to be replicated.

I wanted to participate in the WBL working group to help ensure the potential of RoVE is maximised by providing my thoughts/insights into the future of a WBL model/system. I was equally keen to ensure the transition is as seamless and risk-free as possible so that the beneficiaries and users of the system do not become disillusioned with RoVE because of a poor transition and abandon WBL. This happened in the early 1990s with the last major change and we cannot afford to have this happen again.     

5. What have you valued the most from being part of the Work-Based Learning Development group?

Our group had a very good balance of ITPs, ITOs, distance learning providers and employers. Because of that, we were able to explore WBL models/options from many different perspectives. We were also able to better understand how each part of the vocational system operated and appreciate/respect the diversity that exists. Having these insights has been valuable and we collectively arrived at recommendations and ideas that we all equally supported. Having sectors respect and understand one another allowed us to leverage the best of each part so we could develop ideas and transitional options that concentrated on the needs of employers and learners and the vocational system as a whole.

6. How have your skills and experience complemented others in the group?

As mentioned above, the WBL group was well balanced. Even within the ITO representation there was a spread in the type of models and approaches that existed to manage client needs. These vary from sector to sector (e.g. balance of on-job/off job learning), from employer to employer (e.g. small vs large) and between apprentices and trainees. Most of BCITO learners are apprentices undergoing 3-4 years apprenticeship programmes and most of the employers are SMEs with 96 per cent having less than 10 staff.

From that perspective, I was able to share how we operated that differed from how other ITO’s might operate due to our various sector profiles. ITPs and the Open Polytechnic provided similar perspectives. Accordingly, we were able to have a holistic view of WBL needs and its complexities that wasn’t dominated by one view.

7. What has excited or encouraged you about the process?

The candidness from those involved and their willingness to listen and accept each other views was tremendous. There was no desire for one party to dominate the other but a keenness to explore what must be maintained in order to ensure a smooth transition and what the future could hold. There was no ‘us and them’ or looking in the rear vision mirror lamenting the past but accepting things needed to improve and exploring how that might come about.

With this approach I am encouraged that the true potential that RoVE offers in respect of work-based learning has a chance of being realised given the work the group has done.

8. What has been challenging about the process?

The absence of a clear vision created some challenges with the group’s initial understanding of what we were aiming for. Agreeing a process and approach took a few iterations for us to all get on the same page but once that happened it was pretty much plain sailing. Now that the work is completed, it would be a shame to lose its insights and recommendations. This is something the NZIST Board and senior management will need to consider as it develops its strategy and operating structures.

9. What has been the most interesting or surprising part of the process?

I think the thing that surprised me the most was the instant bipartisan approach to the job at hand. There was an unspoken acceptance of the uniqueness of each delivery model/approach and no desire for one system to dominate. That created trust and facilitated an open discussion focussing on the future and a high-level transitional process that preserved the best aspects of current WBL arrangements. There was a lot of agreement on areas that needed improvement which helped identify future WBL outcomes that RoVE could work towards.

10. What are you most proud of that your group has produced so far for the incoming Council to consider?

A lot of people have given their time and expertise across the various work streams to assist the NZIST and their insights and recommendations cannot afford to be lost. The WBL group has provided insights on how WBL can be strengthened and respects/values those really good parts of the system and leverages them. The group has also recommended how transition can be managed by identifying those characteristics that must be retained to minimise losing the confidence of learners and employers through the transition.

This approach from the group is a holistic one. It recognises the ‘New World” and that we are all in this together, in that same tent, building something new. I think our work reflects that and provides the incoming Council with a great platform for the future.

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