New irrigation micro-credentials on the way

Muka Tangata is working with the irrigation industry to develop new credentials to better support learners and the industry.

Muka Tangata Chief Executive Jeremy Baker says engagement with industry had identified the opportunity to create standalone ‘micro-credentials’ that would give learners a quick pathway to demonstrating specific skills in water measurement and reporting.

“We’re now working together with the industry to develop and refine these micro-credentials, based on learner outcomes, that will allow companies to gain accreditation to work in the water measurement space.”

The work was initiated mid-2023 when Irrigation New Zealand sought Muka Tangata support to turn two of its existing NZQA unit standards into ‘micro-credentials’ – small, focused achievement credentials that mean learners can show skills without having to complete larger qualifications.

Irrigation New Zealand Commercial Manager Julie Melhopt says micro-credentials provide more options for people within the industry to achieve formal qualifications.

“Historically, the irrigation industry has had little in the way of formal training pathways, and this is something Irrigation New Zealand has been working to improve.

“By moving parts of our industry training into micro-credentials we feel that we are not only offering more in terms of qualifications, but we are also future proofing the training being offered in our industry.”

During November, we’ve facilitated a collaborative approach bringing together a group of experts from across the sector including staff from Irrigation New Zealand, the irrigation service sector and local council, to provide feedback and recommendations on the micro-credentials.

The proposed Level 5 micro-credentials will make up part of the Irrigation New Zealand’s Blue Tick accreditation programme for companies that work in water measurement installation, water measurement verification or water measurement telemetry.

Regional councils use Blue Tick Accreditation to ensure consent holders have access to suitably qualified people to do water metering requirements under the Resource Management (Measurement and Reporting of Water Takes) Regulations (2010) and the 2020 amendment.

“Demand for the training has steadily increased over the last three years, in part due to regulatory demand,” says Ms Melhopt.

“Moving to micro-credentials will not only offer a qualification to those people completing the training but will also assist with cost efficiencies in delivery and time.”

She says Muka Tangata has been enthusiastic and proactive in the development of the micro-credentials.

“From the original review of our request, through to the set-up and meeting of an industry specialist panel to review the material, the process has been very smooth and quick to move forward.”

Dave Lane, Water Compliance Manager for irrigation provider Liquid Action says providing a more targeted approach to learning that is relevant now and into the future is critical for the industry.

“There has been a lot of work done to develop specific pathways for people in the irrigation industry. Developing these micro-credentials is part of that and Liquid Action is participating because it’s important that the voice of industry is around the table.”

Ms Melhopt says that through the collaborative process, the need for a further water measurement qualification has also been identified and is being developed. The new micro-credential will be for those people who install and commission water measurement telemetry systems.

“This additional qualification highlights the progress that can be achieved through a collaborative engaged process, where a focus on learner outcomes and delivering what is needed for our industry is at the forefront of the decision-making,” says Ms Melhopt.

Collaborative work developing the proposed micro-credentials is currently underway. Once finalised, Muka Tangata will socialise the proposed micro-credentials with industry and further refine with the goal of implementing early 2024.