Fluid Power Leading the Industry

Hanga-Aro-Rau is working with Industry to create fit-for-purpose training programmes in Fluid Power.

“Historically, Fluid Power has been an underserved industry in terms of both recognition and qualifications, largely due to its complexity and the hugely varied nature of its potential applications,” says Matt Gough, Hanga-Aro-Rau Workforce Development Council (WDC) Industry Manager.  This is set to change with the introduction of a new NZQA-approved qualification facilitated by Matt and the Hanga-Aro-Rau team.  The first-of-its-kind qualification – New Zealand Certificate in Fluid Power Engineering Level 3 – will be delivered from the 1st of February, with Gisborne proudly rolling out the first programme and taking enrolments ahead of the rest of the country. 

Tasj Paulson, Gisborne Hydraulics Services (GHS) Director, has been instrumental in bringing this much-needed qualification to life.  She recognised the need to support the specialised fluid power skillset and raised the idea of a qualification with Hanga-Aro-Rau.  With Matt’s support, twenty industry leaders came together in Auckland for a hui in 2022.  “We held an industry meeting with the single purpose of establishing a recognised qualification,” Tasj says.  “We discussed what this could look like, with the shared goal of making it viable and attractive for more hydraulic technicians to enter the industry.”

Another fantastic outcome to come from this hui was the establishment of The New Zealand Fluid Power Association, with Tasj appointed as its Chairperson.  “Once we established the Association, we were able to begin conversations with training providers,” she says.  The Association then worked closely with Hanga-Aro-Rau to develop a programme designed to provide emerging and established fluid power technicians with essential knowledge, health and safety understanding, and practical skills. 

Apprentice Training New Zealand (ATNZ) is looking forward to delivering it, says National Manager, Ben Julian.  “This qualification will bring formal recognition in a specialised area.  We were the only provider to pick this up and we did it with due diligence. There are approximately 30 candidates nationwide waiting to go and we are really excited about this.  It’s about keeping up with technology and changing mindsets to take that passion Tasj has shown for industry and to make a training programme happen.”

The first learner to enrol in this apprenticeship-style programme is Mohammed Farook, an existing industry professional.  Mohammed began his fluid power journey with an after-school position at GHS and has now completed three years as a full-time hydraulic technician.  “I came here not knowing what hydraulics was.  I watched the guys and learned from them; it’s pretty cool to have an actual qualification to work towards now.  It’s really awesome to get to this position.”  

GHS and ATNZ will actively promote the Certificate as a valid and industry-recognised career opportunity. “Some might be happy with just Level 3,” Tasj says, “but we need pathways for those who want to learn more.  We’re seeing bigger and more complex machinery being built that the people in fluid power will need to maintain.  This requires continual upskilling.”  

Matt says, “The sector has been a joy to work with and a real example of industry working together for the bigger picture. We will continue to work alongside the fluid power sector to develop a pathway to level 4 and 5 qualifications.” As the Fluid Power industry grows and its workers become formally qualified, Hanga-Aro-Rau will continue to provide both a sounding board and a voice.

Photo courtesy of Gisborne Herald. Pictured left to right, Gisborne Hydraulic Services technician Mohammed Farook, Gisborne Hydraulic Services owner/director Tasj Paulson and Ben Julian, the national manager of Apprentice Training New Zealand, which is running the programme.