NZ Marine & Composites IT
Plain sailing with 'people student management solution'.
Fittingly based at Auckland’s Westhaven marina, New Zealand Marine & Composites Industry Training Organisation (NZMAC ITO) is part of the NZ Marine Industry Association.
Appointed by the Government to develop professional qualifications and set standards for the marine and composites industries, NZMAC works with apprentices, employers and training providers to ensure high quality training.
While possibly the smallest of the eleven ITOs in NZ, with a total of eleven staff and just 462 students and trainees, NZMAC is proud of the role it plays in developing the people who build and deliver world-class boats, products and services. NZMAC offers 1- to 5-year apprenticeships, delivers school-to-work transition programmes, and enables employers to add more skilled labour to their resource pool or up-skill existing staff.
As an ITO, NZMAC carries out a number of statutory functions. These include setting national skill standards for the marine and composites industries, arranging for off-site and on-the-job course delivery, organising apprentice assessments, offering advice and information to apprentices and their employers, and providing leadership within the industry on matters relating to skills and training needs.
The sun sets on SmartTMS
NZMAC is highly dependent on systems to efficiently manage the student lifecycle and employee relationships, and to comply with the rigorous regulatory requirements. Presenting the government with inadequate or inaccurate information could put funding at risk, so precise reporting is a vital aspect of any ITO solution.
For many years, NZMAC had used SmartTMS, Fusion5’s training management system for ITOs, which was installed on an ‘under-the-desk’ server. The need to upgrade the aging server and review the organisation’s whole technology infrastructure prompted NZMAC to evaluate what else was in the market.
Erlina Ocdao, NZMAC ITO Technical Operations Analyst, was assigned the task of assessing the ‘where-to-from-here’ options for their trainee management system.
This was an exercise, says Ocdao, that highlighted the lack of system-ready integration to TEC, NZQA and MOE. “While there were plenty of learning management systems in the market, they weren’t readily integrated with the MoE database. So, if selected, they would mean we faced a slow, complicated and expensive implementation.”
people Student Management Solution for flexibility
Fusion5 proposed that NZMAC instead consider people Student Management Solution (people sms), a cloud-based trainee management system. Moving to Fusion5’s proprietary student management solution would not only introduce new features, a modern look and feel, and more comprehensive functionality, but also relieve the organisation of the need to invest in costly hardware.
With its ready integration to the NZQA, Ministry of Education and Tertiary Education Commission requisite standards, people sms offered NZMAC simplicity and savings.
A set monthly subscription per user also transformed the solution from a capital expense for the ITO to a predictable operating cost.
The subscription model for people sms includes all future upgrades, so NZMAC will always be on the latest version. It also allows the organisation to enjoy a fully featured training management system until they, along with the other ten NZ ITOs, understand how the 2019 Education (Vocational Education and Training Reform) Amendment Bill will impact their operations.
Sven Martin, Fusion5’s executive director, says that people sms is geared towards supporting the New Zealand Education Sector as they navigate the new, and as yet uncharted, education and training environment. It provides capability that transcends across the student management functions for Polytechnics and the apprenticeship learner workloads performed by the ITOs.
“We’re delighted to welcome NZMAC to the people sms family. We’ve purposely designed our solution to help ITOs to adapt to the upcoming industry reforms, and can provide the flexibility, knowledge and support to make it an easy technological transition.”
NZMAC is the first New Zealand ITO to adopt people sms for the cloud. To ensure a smooth cut over from SmartTMS to people sms, the organisation committed to a thorough detail-oriented testing process before moving to the live environment.
Ocdao is more than happy with the decision to adopt people sms and with Fusion5’s response to their needs.
“We now have far more flexibility in how we work,” she says. “As it’s a cloud solution, the off-site accessibility makes a real difference. I can work from home, or even while on holiday, as long as I have an internet connection and the people sms app on my laptop. It’s also faster: We can process our programmes, qualifications and learner registrations more quickly to ITR (the Industry Training Register). It’s also much easier to filter data ̶ identifying fees-free eligible trainees, for example ̶ and to generate monthly reports for the Tertiary Education Commission and the ITO Board of Management.”
The people sms interface has been a hit with Ocdao as well. “It has a familiar, natural look and feel so it’s instinctive to use. It behaves in the way that you expect, so there’s no learning curve, and it has consistent icons, images and layouts throughout. This all makes it easy to navigate and use.”