News / Advancing electrical trades training in New Zealand

Advancing electrical trades training in New Zealand

April 3 2023

Today marks the completion of the acquisition by Skills Group of Etco. ME has sold Etco to Skills to support the creation of a new Specialist Trades Construction School within the Skills network. Alongside Etco within the Specialist Trades Construction School will be existing Skills providers Industry Connection for Excellence (ICE) and e-tec, a specialist electronics for industry training provider. ME will hold a strategic, cornerstone 30% shareholding in the Specialist Construction Trades School.

In addition to moving Etco into a sustainable, long-term environment for trades training and apprenticeship development, the deal releases capital to ME and provides ongoing returns to the organisation via long-term commercial leases for premises to be used by Skills for the Specialist Trades Construction School. Operationally, it’s business as usual for Etco and apprentices will notice no change.

Maximising our strategic opportunity

The Board of ME has taken this step in response to a number of factors, including the changing landscape for apprentice education and training, following the government’s recent Review of Vocational Education (RoVE). These changes include the future funding landscape for training providers. While Etco can be proud of its achievements over its 32 years, as its owner ME had an obligation to look to the future.

While ME remains committed to Etco’s mission, we recognise that this can be best achieved in this new environment within a broader education and training ecosystem offered by our shared vision with Skills for a new Specialist Trades Construction School =. It offers advantages for our apprentices, and our team at Etco, as well as for ME and its members. An Advisory Board has been established to oversee the establishment of the Specialist Construction Trades School.

Taking this step now maximises our strategic opportunity. It shifts eEco into a sustainable operating environment that will offer our students even greater opportunity as well as enhanced support. This step is very much a win-win for Etco and our apprentices as well as for ME and our members.

A sustainable future of electrical apprentices

Etco’s current operation and all its staff will transfer in its entirety into Skills Group, ensuring continuity for our apprentices, including those apprentices employed by Etco. Etco’s operation continues as usual.

As you would appreciate, this opportunity has been the focus of examination and consideration at regional and national level within ME for some period of time. Your Board and management has carefully evaluated this, alongside other options, for the future development of Etco, and our organisation as a whole.

This step considerably reduces risk for both Etco and ME as we move into a new training and apprenticeship environment that will continue to evolve and change. Furthermore, the benefits to ME of establishing a more sustainable funding base means our work to support members and our industry as a whole is enhanced.

With the acquisition by Skills Group now complete, our focus turns to the establishment of the Specialist Trades Construction School as well as supporting the integration of Etco into Skills over the coming months. We look forward to working with our team at Etco and with Skills Group colleagues to establish the new Specialist Trades Construction School, which will be an important step in underpinning the future of our industry.

This is an exciting development that will be hugely beneficial for apprentices, employers and the industry in general, and precisely what our sector needs as we step into the future.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us. And we will be continuing to update you on this opportunity as this partnership is established and the transition into Etco’s new environment is finalised.

Colin Smith Bernie McLaughlin
Chair Chief Executive Officer

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