How-to Guide: City Rail Link Case Study

This informative how-to guide is to help others learn how to adopt City Rail Link’s approach to diversity and inclusion.

City Rail Link Limited (CRL Ltd) has demonstrated how to successfully support construction skills and training for a specific group of people – in this case, helping rangatahi get to the employment starting line and launch a successful and rewarding career.

Who is this guide for?

Any organisation in the construction sector that may be thinking about targeting rangatahi, as part of its wider construction skills and training development plan.

CRL Ltd's approach can be scaled and tailored to suit various projects or programmes of different sizes. It is also worth taking into account that having a positive impact on just one young person's life is significant. The benefits are felt across the community by family and friends, program mentors, and even seasoned construction workers who get to view their job through the "fresh eyes" of an intern.

This guide can support clients in government or the private sector and their suppliers in thinking about opportunities for improving construction skills and training through procurement. Under the Government Procurement Rules, agencies with new construction works with an estimated value of more than $9 million must ask their suppliers about their plans to improve or build skills over the course of the contract.

Large projects and programmes offer greater opportunities for targeted skill development and training. As a result, the Government Procurement Rules also require government agencies to develop specific skills and training development plans for projects that are valued at more than $50 million, or when a programme of work is more than three years.

Read about construction skills and training and procurement guidelines(external link) -

Begin with a pilot programme

If this is an area that is new to your organisation, consider adopting a pilot programme first. Start small and evaluate any outcomes and lessons learnt to see how the approach can be developed further on subsequent projects and programmes.

Dedicated and empathetic mentors

The programme participants need a dedicated person who wants the interns to be successful, and who will work hard to make that happen. Their mentor needs to have some understanding or knowledge about the issues that young Māori and Pasifika people may be experiencing. For example crowded living arrangements, single parent incomes and youth who might have been in care.

Provide a strong support network

Participants also need a strong support system, people that can provide wider advice and guidance. Key to the success of CRL Ltd's pilot programme was partnering with community organisations that shared CRL Ltd's vision and could provide pastoral care support to the rangatahi.

Enable the development of strong relationships

The pilot involved CRL Ltd's two early contracts – C1 (Britomart Station/lower Queen Street) and C2 (tunnel construction at the lower end of Albert Street).

A review of the pilot revealed that there may have been value in a more focussed application of the programme – placing participants on one site and experiencing two or three different roles in one place, rather than moving them around. This more focussed approach would have enabled them to build stronger relationships with the people they were working with.

A more visible presence onsite from someone dedicated to overseeing the programme may also add value. Fresh eyes, from a person one step removed from daily construction, could also add value to the programme. They might recognise more successes from participants, such as being early to work, having complete PPE, being well mannered and easy to get along with.

Work with your suppliers

Consider the opportunities available within your project or programme, either through your own organisation or your suppliers. Asking your suppliers to work together with you to support your programme can make a huge difference, talk to them in advance to work out what's possible and sustainable to achieve.

Be clear about outcomes with those tendering for work

As a client seeking outcomes, ensure that you are clear with those tendering for work what you want to achieve. This should be a part of how you talk about the project, backed up within tender and contract documents.

Set clear standards and provide a safe environment

It is important to have standards for participants to achieve and to maintain those standards throughout the project. Key to success is providing the right conditions that will encourage people to develop and build standards of their own.

Being supportive does not mean accepting low standards, it may mean that rangatahi need to be shown what success looks like to encourage their own self-development. Providing a place for young people to feel safe and confident enough to achieve, without fear of being ridiculed, is not easy but it is certainly worthwhile.

Remove any perceived commercial barriers

Working with, and building relationships with, other agencies that can provide funding to support such programmes helps remove some of the perceived commercial barriers to supporting new entrants to the workforce. For example, CRL Ltd worked with the Ministry of Social Development, with input from the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment.

Last updated: 25 March 2021