Ongoing professional development is important for all Downer employees to ensure that our people and their capabilities grow with the business. Our focus on development is designed to ensure that we deliver maximum value to our customers and the services we provide. LEaDYP is a leadership program for Downer’s Young Professionals (YPs). To be nominated for the program, employees are identified as a talented young professional in the business. In 2015 Downer was awarded the 2015 award for best Talent Development Program in Australia for this program.

Candice Mesecke, Executive Manager, Organisational Development & Change Downer Group, said: “This is the fourth year we have run the LEaDYP program. Block One is themed around thought leadership and our YPs are asked to consider how they can embed thought leadership into their roles for their customers. The group of YPs benefit from hearing from a multitude of business speakers across Block One including Steve Schofield, Group Head of HR and IR, Christian Porter, EGM, Strategy and Growth, Brendan Flemming, Contract Manager, Jason Breton, GM Risk and Regulatory Affairs, and Tim Maher, EGM, Zero Harm, Rail. They also go on a site tour at somewhere in the business to see first-hand how thought leadership is a competitive advantage.”

The group reconvenes a couple of times during the year to develop and deliver a business improvement project, continuing to draw on the behaviours and values represented by our four Pillars.

Program participant, Min Lim, Admin Team Leader, from Downer’s Utilities team, said: “I found the program to be very inspiring, especially to be able to learn from the different speakers, and hear what they have been through and how they got to where they are. Something that really resonated with me was that their success is really a lot of hard work, it is not a fluke…it’s what you put into it as a leader. Since attending the program I am trying to become more of an informal mentor, guiding better, which is a key way for me to help my team grow.“

Pictured (left to right): Members of Downer’s L&D team - Rosemary Livermore, Learning and Design Specialist Bernadette Cavanagh, General Manager, Capability and Change and Candice Mesecke, Learning Design Specialist.

Two career pathway programmes in the Waikato District are helping to address the skills shortage in the New Zealand infrastructure industry following the graduation of 21 trainees and apprentices last month.

The Downer Basic Civils programme, between Downer and Waikato-Tainui, in partnership with the Ministry of Social Development, has resulted in 7 previously unemployed members of the community gaining a qualification and employment. Downer and WDC are partners of the Waikato District Alliance (WDA) a joint venture formed to manage and maintain the roading assets of the district.

The Basic Civils Programme aims to attract capable people into the industry and give them career pathways along with industry qualifications.

“We have taken this programme and worked together with Downer to ensure it is contextual to the needs of our Iwi. The two week schedule encompassed an introduction to infrastructure framed by the work of Waikato-Tainui in the community,” says Donna Flavell, CEO of Waikato-Tainui.

“To get the most out of the programme, the team at the Waikato-Tainui Careers Centre ran a robust pre-employment process to ensure those who made it through had the very best chance to take on a career in infrastructure. We wanted to ensure this investment worked for everyone” says Ms Flavell.

The programme is designed to attract local people to careers in infrastructure and provide a clearly defined career path, supplemented with studies and linked to a national qualification.

“In the past, the industry has not had a clearly defined trade like other mainstream trades such as builders, plumbers and electricians. Having a qualification attached to what used to be a “road worker”, has definitely attracted a high calibre of people, who ordinarily would have not considered applying for entry level jobs in the industry.” WDA Manager Doug Carrasco.

Through the Downer Basics programme the trainees have achieved 50% of the credits towards their Infrastructure Works Level 2 Qualification. They have six months to achieve the rest and after that they can progress to Level 3 or 4 through the apprenticeship programme

The roading industry in New Zealand, along with many other industries, is experiencing a shortage of skilled personnel.

“By providing these learning opportunities that are linked with career pathways we are in a position to attract candidates who are keen to succeed,” says Mr Carrasco.

“The calibre of candidates through this intake has been very high. The candidates went through multiple selection processes to get to the point of starting the academic part of the programme.”

Schemes like the Downer Basics Civils Programme are designed to create depth and succession in organisations that have an ageing workforce.

“Even if these trainees and apprentices do not stay with the Waikato District Alliance for a long period, the industry as a whole will see the benefits in the years to come,” says Mr Carrasco.

The intention is for Waikato District Alliance to run the Downer Basic Civils programme annually.