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Knowledge in Action Awards $70,000 Prize Pool

For immediate release

3 May 2006

Competenz Knowledge in Action Awards Reward the Best in Industry Training With $70,000 Prize Pool

Winners in this year's Competenz Knowledge in Action Awards share a common element - they are all taking an innovative approach to workplace training to combat a shortage of skills in our industries.

About 300 guests from throughout the engineering industry gathered at Auckland's Hyatt Hotel last night (May 2, 2006) for the third annual Knowledge in Action Awards, presented by Competenz CEO, John Broadhead, and National Operations Manager, Steve Coatham.

The Awards, established by the Industry Training Organisation, Competenz, recognise businesses which show a commitment to training and upskilling their workforces, and to making sustainable improvements across their operations.

The $70,000 prize pool was this year split by a runner up and winner across each of four award categories including Corporate, SME (small and medium enterprise), Workplace Safety and Registered Assessor of the Year.

Corporate Award

The premier $20,000 Corporate Award was scooped by Dannevirke based RCR Easteel Energy Systems for its long term commitment to providing quality industry training for its people.

Since its establishment as a steel fabrication company in 1953, Easteel has grown to become Australasia's most successful supplier of energy equipment systems to industry.

Competenz Chief Executive, John Broadhead, says Easteel Energy Systems displays a long term commitment to industry training which has become embedded in its corporate culture.

"Easteel has an exemplary training record at the apprentice, technician and graduate level. Of the 100 plus staff the company employs, there are 22 currently undergoing formal training," he says.

"The company has made a real commitment to attract, develop and upskill the very best trades people - a challenge made greater by the rural locality of the manufacturing plant. Easteel's broad approach to industry training has included traineeships, scholarships, cadetships, training schools, graduate programmes, community involvement and an in-house training resource," says Mr Broadhead.

Runner up for the Corporate Award category and recipient of $10,000 was Culham Engineering, a Whangarei-based heavy engineering company with one of the largest engineering fabrication facilities in the country.

Culham Engineering impressed the judges with its quality-focused company philosophy, which has seen a strong culture of training established within the company, while also extending into the community through industry partnerships and the promotion of industry employment to local schools and the greater community.

Culham Engineering has a 48 year history of apprenticeship training, and since 1958, has had over 350 apprentices complete their apprentice training with the company.

Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Award

Scooping the $15,000 SME Award was Stafford Engineering Limited - a Hamilton based company operating in the food processing and packaging industry.

John Broadhead says as a small to medium sized company, Stafford Engineering has displayed an outstanding and ongoing commitment to industry training.

"The company's Managing Director, Roger Evans, is a strong believer in workplace training for solving the skills shortage. The business operates on a philosophy of sustainable management where the employee contribution to business performance is recognised by having the opportunity to develop, prosper and share in the success of business.

"For 20 years its business model and HR strategy have been based on encouraging and supporting training initiatives at all levels. This includes trades, technician, professional, supervision and management as well as in health and safety and first aid so that their team has the skills required to deliver engineering solutions. Currently 30 per cent of the total staff is in formal training agreements," says Mr Broadhead.

The runner up in the SME category, taking away $5,000, is the Southern Group Training Trust - a charitable trust formed in 1999 to encourage and enable more Southland businesses to become involved in apprentice training, in turn creating a skilled workforce within the region.

Southern Group Training Trust has displayed an ongoing commitment to industry training by encouraging companies to take on apprentices in the Southland area. The group works with people seeking apprenticeships and with companies which may benefit from having an apprentice.

Workplace Safety Award

Steel and Tube Holdings is the country's largest distributor of steel, wire and allied products servicing the construction, rural and manufacturing sectors. The company demonstrated a strong position in workplace safety after winning this year's Workplace Safety Award worth $7,500. Steel and Tube subsidiary company Hurricane Wire Products received the runner up award for the category, receiving $2,500.

As winner of the category last year, Christchurch based Hurricane Wire Products impressed judges for the second year running by displaying a continuous commitment to workplace safety. Workplace safety takes priority in the company and is incorporated in all planning through the vision statement and Health and Safety policy.

Mr Broadhead said that as the winner, Wellington based Steel and Tube displayed a comprehensive commitment to workplace safety through systematic identification of key problems and developing and implementing programmes to address these key problems.

Registered Assessor Award

The Registered Assessor winner was Terrence Kwa from Wormald, who received $7,500.

Mr Broadhead said Terry had displayed a long-term commitment to quality training in his Petone workplace.

"He has ensured they have had access to quality training materials and has made consistent contributions to fire protection qualifications. He had fantastic references and testimonials from trainees he has assessed who each spoke of his encouragement and mentoring abilities," he says.

Sanitarium's Elizabeth Whiteside was the runner up in the Registered Assessor category, receiving $2,500.

John Broadhead said that in just three years, the Knowledge in Action Awards had set a new standard for training excellence.

"Businesses are using the awards as another benchmark for their training programmes and as additional motivation to lift programmes and processes to a new level," he says.

"The standard of entries for 2006 was extremely high and good evidence that New Zealand companies are realising the importance of training to upskill their workforce, and in turn make sustainable improvements across their business."


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