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Transpower’s Grid Skills Awards Its First NZQA Qualification

Transpower’s Private Training Establishment (PTE), Grid Skills, has been accredited to offer and award the Electricity Supply (Substation Maintenance) Level 4 qualification by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA), adding to its investment in training across the transmission sector.

The first two trainees to be awarded the qualification are ElectroNet’s Phil Van Zuylen from Nelson, and Electrix’s Dave McLean from Maungatapere.

The Level 4 qualification involves theoretical and practical learning that is trained and assessed both on and off the job.

Transpower General Manager Grid Delivery Mark Ryall says developing and recognising the skills of people in the transmission industry is always important, but particularly so at this point in New Zealand’s journey to increased electrification.

“In New Zealand, transmission is a specialised workforce and collectively we are gearing up for an exciting period of growth as more of our economy is electrified. To be able to award a qualification in this specialisation only adds further to the strength of our industry.”

Transpower Technical Training Manager Lynda Doyle says NZQA’s approval of the qualification was a significant endorsement for Grid Skills, which is listed as a Category 1 PTE.

“Transpower invests heavily in the education and skill development of transmission sector field workers, covering course costs and providing a travel and accommodation allowance for trainees attending our training facilities.

“We are delighted to now provide trainees with a NZQA certification that is transferrable across the transmission sector, reflects the quality of our training and reflects the importance placed on learning, in the sector.

“We’ll continue to seek approval from NZQA for additional qualifications so that workers in the transmission sector like Phil and Dave can have their specialisations and skills formally certified and take pride in their achievements.”

Never too late

For both Phil and Dave, the qualification complements decades of experience between them and acknowledges the skills they’ve developed over their careers.

Phil Van Zuylen made the move to the transmission sector relatively recently after spending more than 30 years with Telecom (now known as Spark). Following his career pivot, Phil began work across a few different jobs in the electricity field, finding that jobs involving high voltage equipment were especially to his liking.

ElectroNet, one of Transpower’s service providers, gave him the opportunity to do just that.

“After some time I then asked ElectroNet if they could support me with further training so I could develop more skills. That’s what led me to Grid Skills,” Phil said.

“I completed the SE [Substation Entry] courses, and wanted to move on to a Substation Maintenance course. It just so happened that Grid Skills had just introduced its NZQA qualification.

“It’s definitely satisfying having a NZQA certification which recognises your skills within a bigger framework, and I look forward to seeing what other opportunities become available in the future.”

Dave McLean’s journey in the transmission industry began a lot earlier, having an impressive 27 years under his belt with engineering company and Transpower Service Provider Electrix. His first three years were spent as a line mechanic before finding substation work really piqued his interest.

Despite having an encyclopaedic knowledge and a wealth of experience working in substations, there were no official qualifications to acknowledge his knowledge, experience and the skills he had developed. When the opportunity finally came around, Dave grabbed it with both hands.

“I’ve developed a good array of skills over my career, so it’s nice to now have a qualification that certifies the skills that are required in my line of work. The learning process and on-the-job assessments were a good challenge and ensures learners really know what they’re doing and can perform tasks to a high standard.”

Dave added that the prospect of more qualifications was “encouraging” and would benefit a lot of people who — like him — never had the opportunity to have their skills recognised through a formal certificate.

“If more qualifications are offered, people like myself will waste no time in adding them to the list so their expertise is formally recognised and appreciated. I’d also like to be able to carry out more specialised substation work, and qualifications would be something that would allow me to get to that stage.”

About Grid Skills

Transpower’s Grid Skills is New Zealand's foremost provider of electricity industry skills and competency management services for the transmission sector.

Its trade training programmes generally have unit standard or qualification based outcomes and, where relevant, can lead to eligibility to apply for electrical registration via the Electricial Workers Registration Board.

NZQA, via an External Evaluation & Review Report, rates Grid Skills as being ‘Highly Confident’ in educational performance’ and 'Confident’ in capability in self-assessment (Category 1).

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