Unison has officially opened its Centre of Excellence training facility at the Eastern Institute of Technology's Taradale campus.
The facility was developed in partnership with the Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT) to provide a dedicated learning environment for the delivery of safety and technical training courses for Unison employees, which will also be available for use by the institute and external groups.
"This facility allows us to deliver all our training in one industry-specific location and in a learning-focused environment," Unison Networks chief executive Ken Sutherland said.
EIT chief executive Chris Collins said the partnership made sense.
"Unison is one of Hawke's Bay's largest employers and, as EIT is the leading provider of education and relevant training for the region, it just made sense for the two organisations to partner for the provision of such a specific training facility," he said.
The centre has generated interest from other network providers as well as training providers. An industry training organisation has already booked the centre for a National Certificate course, which is to run over the next 12 months.
"In the electrical industry safety is paramount, as is the continuous development of our employees.
"Being able to deliver this training locally is of huge benefit, and we're also pleased to be able to help attract industry courses to the region," Sutherland said.
The centre features a large workshop area, classrooms and outdoor training area to meet the needs of Unison's training and employee development programme.
The project to establish the centre had itself been a learning and development project, Sutherland said.
"We were able to incorporate the project into our Employee Development Programme, with Unison contracting services cadet Clayton McCullough, responsible for the design, costing and project management of an outdoor training environment complete with overhead [de-energised] power lines, which will be completed in April," he said.
The task of raising the power poles will also be undertaken as a training exercise, with company engineering crews involved.
"Unison continues to develop a range of energy and infrastructure solutions, and developing our employees is a critical part of this process," Sutherland said.
The centre will offer training across a range of subjects, including first-aid, safety, and traffic management courses, Unit Standards and National Certificates, together with necessary training that enables employees to prepare for new and developing technologies.
It will also host Unison's Switched on to Opportunities course, which is a Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) funded literacy programme that provides 40 hours of training to 50 employees over a 12-month period.