– what’s missing is more important than what’s there –

Over the last few busy months, I’ve been making submissions to draft reports on just some of the many environmental and related reforms our Government is undertaking – climate change, three-waters management and infrastructure, to name a few.

These draft reports all reference the global and local shortage of skills we face just when we need to ramp up our effort to tackle decades of inattention to environmental and infrastructure issues.

My focus is on the training that environment and sustainability professionals are all scrambling for. Vocational or trades training is rightly getting some much-needed attention, but professional development is, for all practical purposes, neglected.

So I searched each draft report for the terms ‘skills’, training, ‘capability’, ‘capacity’, ‘workforce’ and ‘education’. These terms were always referenced multiple times on many pages.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? That should guarantee that the experts who can grow our local capability and capacity are supported to do that.

But no. I see four gaps in all of the reports I’ve read. The first two are the absence of references to:

1. Strategy

We need sector-specific training strategies that identify and prioritize the professional training topics most urgently needed to meet the Government’s environmental requirements; and

  1. Funding

    Through their sector associations, environmental experts are already working nights and weekends to develop and deliver the great training only they can do. If we are to deliver what the Government wants at the scale and pace it’s set, then we need good money to properly support our experts to develop and deliver on the identified training needs to grow wider industry capability and capacity for priority environmental skills.

But two more vital ingredients are also missing from the reports I’ve read – and what’s missing is even more important than what’s there.

Those vital missing two? Integration and evaluation. These third and fourth needs are absolutely crucial for cost-effective action, and I see no mention of them:

  1. Coordination

    it’s good that Government initiatives for nature, climate change, resource management, three waters, infrastructure and more identify the need for workforce training. But all these topics are interrelated with each other, so it’s not good if this training for each of these proceeds in isolation from the others. What would be the result?

    “gaps + overlaps = wasted time and money”

    If we are to work cost-effectively, we need to work together to coordinate how we share the workload.

  1. Evaluation

    The Resource Management Act and Essential Freshwater reforms, key legislation like the Zero Carbon Act and the Government’s sustainable Procurement Rules and related guides focus on outcomes. Our training needs to do the same. We need to show how the development, delivery and broader outcomes of our professional and vocational training meet our legislative and policy outcomes using measures in the Government’s Living Standards framework supplemented as needed by other agreed local and global indicator frameworks.

Why is this important? Because if we don’t do it, we’ll never know if what we did made the difference we want.

This is critically important work – and it’s what I do.

Join me: it’s all about Learning for Life on Earth.

Contact me today to book in 30-minutes for a free, no-obligation consultation on how my strategic training programs can help with your environment and sustainability training strategies – I’d love to chat with you!


Want to find out more? Follow the links below:

  • Aotearoa New Zealand as a Learning Society. A presentation for Infrastructure New Zealand’s Vision Week, June 2020. Viewable at https://bit.ly/The-Learning-Society.
  • Shovel-ready Projects – where is the money going and do we agree? A webinar hosted by CIWEM (the UK-based and global Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management) on 25 August 2020. Co-presented with Graham Mitchell, CEO of Crown Infrastructure Partners (CIP). Viewable at http://bit.ly/CIWEMshovelReadyProjects.
  • Ten Top Training Tips for the best outcomes from RMA reform. A blog viewable at http://bit.ly/TopTipsforRMAtraining