Growing the Capabilities of CAA

Skills International helped CAA design and implement a learning and development plan

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is the agency that’s responsible for overseeing New Zealand’s aviation safety.

a structured workshop programme that would create real behavioural change
Their role is to see that all the participants in the aviation industry meet the standards set by the Minister of Transport – and, most importantly, protect the public interest.

When it comes to air safety, ensuring the CAA’s regulators are adequately trained is essential. That’s why Skills International was brought on board to help CAA design and implement a learning and development plan that would focus on the skills of their core staff.

By developing a structured workshop programme that would create real behavioural change, and integrating this with ongoing development activities in the workplace, Skills International was able to put in place two pilot workshops. These were initially run with a mix of managers, team leaders, and operational staff from across CAA with the aim of promoting cross-functional working.

The pilot workshops prompted additional, wider thinking around organisational development within the CAA and the importance of developing their internal training expertise. At the same time, encouraging and promoting long-term, ongoing change. Successfully completed, the pilots led to CAA engaging Skills International for further work.

In essence, the CAA project was an organisational development project built around two sets of competencies – the standards competency and the behavioural competency.

The standards were used to provide a clear focus on technical skills development and to bring a level of professionalism to the competence testing element of the CAA’s Warrants and Delegations process. The latter was not in place, as a result staff were not sure how to competently discharge their delegated authorities.

Since Skills International began the project, there is now a complete set of standards at CAA and they are in the process of designing an assessment pilot. The standards themselves range over level five and six – much the same as the Government Regulatory Qualifications US.

In terms of the behavioural competencies, these are being used to drive a development programme focused on five key behaviours, including problem-solving, critical thinking and systems thinking. These behaviours are deemed essential for the new risk management-focused regulatory model that CAA is adopting.

In the past, the focus had been on a checklist-based approach which, while potentially thorough, had meant that regulators could miss key information about underlying issues, particularly behavioural issues. To address this, this part of the project has focused on developing a series of problem-solving workshops using scenarios that challenge participants. As the problem-solving workshops develop further, this will include additional development interventions.