After more than seven years at the helm, Careerforce chief executive Ray Lind has announced his resignation.

Lind hopes the timing of his decision will ensure a smooth succession for the role. With board chair Richard Westlake due to retire next year, Lind felt it best for the organisation to stagger their end dates. Lind’s last day with the industry training organisation will be 2 November 2018.

Under Lind’s watch, Careerforce has seen significant growth with trainee numbers rising from 2317 (standard training measures) in 2011, to a forecast 5400 for 2018, growth of 133%. It’s clear he is passionate about opportunities for people working in these sectors, and education in general.

“When I first started, 80% of our enrolments were doing Level 2 and now we have a huge range of qualifications and pathways,” he says.

Apprenticeships have been another “hugely satisfying development” with over 1500 apprentices on board after starting the programme just 18 months ago.

However, it’s clear Lind considers the Kaiāwhina Workforce Action Plan among his greatest successes as chief executive. The five-year action plan with a 20-year vision, is jointly owned by Careerforce and the Ministry of Health, and has been praised internationally as an exemplar of how to provide meaningful career pathways for an unregulated health workforce. There are similar plans afoot to develop the social services sector workforce, according to Lind.

“An employer said to me the other day that her carers working in disability are able to earn over $60,000 a year if they have the Level 4 qualification. That’s actually a really good living wage.”

It hasn’t been completely smooth sailing, however. Lind has had a front row seat to the roll-out of pay equity and while it has delivered good outcomes for workers, the process has been painful at times.

“The biggest challenge has been that up until pay equity, employers tended to value competence but not qualifications – and of course from the Government’s point of view, New Zealand Incorporated needs national qualifications which are portable.”

Lind says employer attitudes are changing as quality systems and audit processes kick in, and increasingly people are seeing the value of being qualified, as well as being trained.

“One of the things that we got wrong, as a country, was the legislation tied remuneration to Careerforce NZQA’s qualifications and it added in the words ‘or equivalent’. The problem with that was that NZQA’s idea of equivalence didn’t match the employers’ ideas.”

Lind says this caused “incredible heartache”. He hopes a change in the wording of the legislation will help ensure the qualifications are relevant to the employer, especially as pay equity negotiations continue for other sectors, with the mental health and addiction sector heading up the queue.

Fortunately this hasn’t tarnished Lind’s reflections of his time at Careerforce.

“It has been an honour to lead Careerforce these past seven years and to serve the tens of thousands of trainees who use our qualifications. I am grateful for what we have accomplished as a team on behalf of our learners and employers as we pursue the interests of New Zealand.”

Careerforce board chair Richard Westlake describes Lind as “an exceptional leader” and pivotal to the organisation’s growth.

“He has an intimate understanding of the New Zealand health system, and Careerforce will sorely miss his extensive experience and strategic contributions, as indeed will the wider health and wellbeing sector,” says Westlake.

So, what’s next for Ray Lind?

He has had a number of approaches for governance roles and is keen to pursue opportunities in both the health and wellbeing and education sectors.

“I’m getting to the age and stage where governance appeals to me,” he says.

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