Skills and Capabilities. Vaughn Crowther & Sharon Cartman

The public works profession is experiencing a skills shortage not experienced since the post war nation building era. New Zealand is going off!

And ever since the industrial revolution, we have relied on the vocational education sector to be our trusted supplier of skills. This is no longer the case. 80% of our most trusted of skilled labour suppliers, our polytechnics, are struggling financially. They are slowly go broke while industry wages and training costs increase. Some have already received $100m in government bailouts since 2017. How is this possible? Is there a better way?

In the field of Infrastructure Asset Management, we are sorely lacking educational pathways into and through our profession. Indeed, there is no degree level qualification (yet) and currently only one offering at diploma level. And what about the many people already in our profession seeking advancement?

We’ve been working directly with the Tertiary Education Commission and the education sector to place industry and learners back in the centre of our skilled labour supply.

Introducing’s, small packages (micro-credentials) of learning authored by industry, delivered by educators and hosted on an open platform that crowd-sources quality.’s enable the tertiary sector to provide more relevant training, greater speed to market and digital accreditation for the learner.  We are placing industry and learners, back in the centre of skills supply.

This initiative is from the overarching programme called Fostering our Future. Fostering our Future was created by passionate public works professionals wanting to better attract, develop and retain the skilled people we need to uphold our standards of living.

This forum is a great example of you all learning new skills, meeting people, innovating and working collaboratively for the greater good of the profession. But how can you have these learnings recognised? How can they be recorded as a small step in your larger professional development pathway? Wouldn’t it be game changing if you could forever capture your learnings in a digital passport and tailor your own career pathway to suit your circumstances?

How could a system like this change the way you think about training?
Would you be able to specify what specific skill sets you want for your staff/team?
Are you interested in participating?

Vaughn is Utility’s blue-sky thinker, their ‘idea’s man’. Vaughn is highly regarded throughout the sector as a thought leader and his passion to make a difference is electrifying. He is committed to leading New Zealand’s communities to the next tier of prosperity. Vaughn has expertise in infrastructure asset management with a specific slant on building capability, creating future leaders and identifying sustainable solutions.  Vaughn is a founding director of Utility.


Sharon Cartman is Utility’s Educational Leader.  A recovering microbioligist, Sharon can now be found in the classroom teaching our next generation of tamariki. Sharon relishes the reflective nature of teaching and its complexities.  She practices the philosophies of Te whariki and Maori teaching in her pursuit of life-long learning. Above all, Sharon brings a fresh perspective to the public works sector and new ideas to solve our skills shortage.