Workshop Four: Skills & Capabilities

Developing an engineering degree apprenticeship in infrastructure asset management
Jonathan Morris, WSP Opus
Co-author: J. Mackay, Wellington Institute of Technology

If you’d like work-ready degree-qualified asset management graduates then the degree apprenticeship might be just what you need. Come along and find out more.

In common with many other countries, New Zealand faces a shortage of infrastructure asset managers. In the absence of asset management degrees, industry relies mainly on graduates from other disciplines developing into asset managers through on-the-job experience. A more structured approach to degree-level training and development has potential for producing asset managers while raising awareness of asset management as a career path, especially among younger people. However, the wide-ranging requirements of asset management favour an approach that combines workplace experience and academic learning.

This paper describes the development of a pilot curriculum for a three-year engineering technologist apprenticeship degree in infrastructure asset management. The approach used is driven by the engineering community with support from the education sector to better focus on addressing a critical shortage that is a looming national problem.

Overseas experience has shown that the greater integration of work and training which underpins the degree apprenticeship approach not only provides a supply of work-ready graduates, but can also widen participation and development of those who might otherwise miss out – for example, people in rural centres and those whose financial situation, family and other commitments make full time study difficult.


Jonathan is a Fellow of the UK Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining, and a WSP-Opus Technical Principal specializing in how durability and asset management interact.
As a corrosion specialist, he finds rusty and broken things interesting, and as an asset manager he likes working out what to do about them and when. That or building a better system in the first place. 
In between times he helps people learn new things, is a registered assessor for the New Zealand Diploma in Infrastructure Asset Management, and chairs the industry group for the Degree Apprenticeship development team. 

Asset Management for Developing Countries, NZ Observations from Masters Research Thesis
Ross Waugh, Waugh Infrastructure Management

The presentation will provide a valuable range of insights for New Zealand infrastructure management and should encourage ongoing discussion on pathways forward.

This abstract is based on Ross Waugh’s Master of Engineering, University of Auckland research on Asset Management for Developing Countries.  The research was completed in 2017.  Ross received award of the degree in July and graduated in September 2018.
The research was completed around transportation asset management in the Pacific, Asia, Africa and Central/South America.  The research results are also directly applicable to New Zealand, with reference to skills gaps and continuity of delivery of infrastructure asset management.

The research included the South African National Road Authority Limited (SANRAL) Research Validation Case Study which will be referenced as this case study contains valuable insights for New Zealand practice.

The presentation will discuss a key observation of the research, that is the breath of training requirements needed and the need for ongoing training as:

  • Staff changes develop
  • Agencies move through the asset management lifecycle, presenting different problem sets
  • The impacts and complexity climate change bring to infrastructure management
  • Industry experience, standard and technical changes
  • Network development and sophistication changes

This presentation will challenge your thinking about the scope of training needs within the New Zealand infrastructure asset management industry.

Ross Waugh is the founder of Waugh Infrastructure Management and is an asset management and systems integration specialist with over 30 years’ experience in municipal infrastructure asset management and engineering.  Ross has been consulting in infrastructure management for 20 years this year, in the areas of transportation, utilities, community facilities, buildings and property.
Ross has contributed to a number of New Zealand national data capture, research, advisory, government enquiry, and infrastructure standard setting projects, and is a section author of the International Infrastructure Management Manual 2011 and 2015.
Ross has experience of seven cycles of integrating infrastructure asset management planning with long term financial planning within the New Zealand context.  He has also completed infrastructure asset management assignments in Australia and the Pacific.

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