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Property Knowledge Hour: Building property capability through a graduate programme

How do we create a property graduate programme to build and future-proof property capability across the public sector? This was the subject of the second Property Knowledge Hour, hosted by New Zealand Government Procurement and Property (NZGPP).

The Property Knowledge Hour aims to bring public sector property specialists together once a month for an hour to network and share knowledge and learnings.

NZGPP Manager Capability, Stephanie Unka, spoke about the success of the procurement graduate programme and the work underway to investigate how a similar graduate programme might work for property across the public sector. The aim is to boost capability and skills in property, and ensure government property stands out as a career choice for graduates.

NZGPP is seeking agency feedback on how to attract talent to work in government property, what makes a successful property graduate, and what the graduate pathways will look like to ensure property graduates remain committed to government property as a career choice after they graduate from the programme.

Stephanie gave an overview of the development and success of the procurement graduate programme that was first implemented in 2014. This programme was developed because of a shortage of new graduates choosing procurement as a career, and aimed to create a pathway into the profession.

Particular skill sets are required to be accepted to the programme including:

  • Motivation – we want graduates who are looking for a career, not a stepping-stone
  • Soft skills such as leadership, communication, problem solving
  • Attitude – we want outgoing graduates who are willing to learn
  • Academic background – this does not have to be set degrees but looking at a commitment to studying and learning and developing skills further.

“We look for a commitment to procurement as a career path and we want people who have thought about it and want a career in procurement. We want to take the same approach for property and bring people into a property graduate programme who have thought about it and want a career in property.”

A graduate from the procurement graduate programme, Jacinta Taliauli, said in her two-years on the programme she has had the opportunity to work at Auckland Transport, Housing New Zealand, Ministry of Social Development, and Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment. She said the variety of placements both in infrastructure and social areas meant she has been able to develop skills and knowledge in sustainability and social services which can be transferred and used across her placements and also in her community work.

Stephanie Unka said the graduates gain four-year’s worth of experience in two-years and by the end of the programme many are often running their own small projects. She says they have been set up to succeed.

We now want to hear from agencies to help design a graduate programme for property. We have a short questionnaire for agencies to provide us with key details to inform the programme. The questions we would like answers to include:

  • Are there any entry level requirements for property graduates (e.g. specific qualifications, skillsets) or can they learn on the job? Are there any universities we should target?
  • What professional development would be useful for property graduates? Is there a suitable property related industry qualification that would benefit the graduates to complete during the programme? (e.g. we put the procurement graduates through Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply level 4 diploma)
  • What is the value proposition for graduates? Why should they choose government property over the big commercial operators?
  • What would a day in the life of a property graduate look like? What sort of work would graduates be asked to do in a property rotation?
  • Would a six-month rotation around different agencies be long enough for graduates to understand and contribute to your business, or is this too short?
  • Is there a benefit in graduates having visibility across procurement and property to broaden commercial skills, rather than specialising in the beginning?

You can email your answers to these questions or any other property graduate programme ideas to info@gpg.govt.nz or complete the Designing a property graduate programme form.

Read about Government Property.

Read about the procurement graduate programme.

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