Fostering Our Future

fostering our future

A collaborative initiative to address a systemic skills shortage

Client: IPWEA NZ and Engineering E2E

Background: The public works profession directly underpins the prosperity of New Zealanders. A strong profession means that our core needs of public sanitation; human connectivity and a sustainable environment can be delivered consistently and efficiently.

Problem: New Zealand’s public works profession faces an unprecedented skills shortage. It experiences difficulty in attracting, developing and retaining the skilled people it needs to deliver core services to the public. If not addressed proactively, our current standards of living are at risk of decline.

  • 1 in 3 public works professionals are due to retire within the next 15 years, this is 1 in 2 for regional New Zealand.
  • Only 1 in 6 public works professionals are women.
  • Approximately 12,000 more engineering professionals (all disciplines) will be needed in NZ by 2025.
  • Over $100 billion of investment in infrastructure is scheduled between 2016-2061 (NZ Treasury).

Mission: In 2018, Utility was engaged to develop a Programme Business Case process to further investigate the scale and nature of this problem and to establish an agreed way forward.


The business case defined the problems and the investment impact, outcomes and programme:
Impact: A strong public works profession underpins the prosperity of our community, the productivity of our economy and the sustainability of our environment.
Outcome: A public works profession that is more resilient, more innovative and a career of choice.

Attract: By 2028, we will inspire 1,000 new and diverse minds.
Develop: By 2028 we will have 1,000 people on learning journeys.
Retain: By 2028, communities will value the important work public works professionals do.

Several options were considered before establishing a preferred way forward. Extra consideration was given to the Commercial and Financial cases, which are typically overlooked. Above all, the programme needed to be deliverable.

Several of the initiatives have since received external investment from willing partners. Two of particular note are:

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