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How building relationships secured the largest investment in trades and apprenticeships

Construction industry body BCITO knew from experience that apprentices are always among the hardest hit in any recession as they carry a cost to businesses and are not yet able to do the work of their more experienced colleagues. As training new workers carries a cost for businesses, and apprentices aren’t yet able to do the work of seasoned colleagues, they tend to be in the frontline for job cuts.

This affects New Zealand’s economic recovery. Rebuilding the economy will require building homes and other infrastructure, which requires as many skilled workers  as we can get – but small firms couldn’t afford to keep their apprentices on when their cashflow had disappeared during lockdown.

When Acumen learned this from Warwick Quinn, CEO of BCITO, we saw the impact of this was far-reaching across sectors. Together with BCITO, we reached out to a range of industry bodies, leveraging our relationships forged through the Construction Accord, highlighting that half of all apprenticeships could be lost without urgent action. With the Government due to make a Budget announcement, our government relations team saw it was crucial to put this on the political agenda immediately.

We knew the Government was firmly opposed to any incentives for employers and businesses so we positioned the conversation as an opportunity to reimagine our apprenticeship model to deliver a stronger economy. We invited Ministers and other key policy makers to join briefings with industry stakeholders. The result: an announcement that the Government would be making the largest ever investment in trades and apprenticeships since the Muldoon era, not just preserving but expanding our pipeline of talent!

We worked alongside BCITO, other industry bodies, Government and officials to make a proactive contribution to key announcements. We prepared Warwick Quinn for live interviews on Budget Day with Stuff, the New Zealand Herald, Radio New Zealand, the AM Show, Mike Hosking’s show on Newstalk ZB, the Drive show on Newstalk ZB and Newshub.

Understanding the environment and strategic outcomes of our client was critical to the success of this fast paced programme of work which took place in the middle of lockdown. What this goes to show is that leveraging diverse, strong relationships is powerful in achieving positive change.