Opal is finding investing in apprentices is good for business


06 March 2022

Opal is a manufacturer of corrugated fibre packaging for a wide range of customers in the food, wine, industrial and beverage industries. Bruce Coombe is Opal’s Technical Supervisor and has been with the company for the past 32 years, and a workplace apprentices assessor for Competenz for 20 years.

More than 20 apprentices have been trained at Opal, most qualifying with a New Zealand Certificate in Fibreboard Packaging Levels 2 and 4. Qualification specialty areas include Bag and Sack, Carton, Cut and Crease, Case Corrugating, Flatbed Die Cutter, Flexo Folder, Gluer Die Cutter, Folder Gluer and Rotary Die Cutter.

“We start them on Level 2 and will continue with them on Level 4 if they continue to show potential and are motivated to learn,” says Bruce. “It is difficult to get good staff so by identifying employees with potential we can train them up to become better skilled. Having the apprenticeship programme and people working towards gaining a qualification is good for business – it helps retain staff and makes for more valuable employees.”

For the past nine years, Steven Jack has been the Competenz training advisor for the packaging industry. He says that in specialist industries such as fibre packaging, the constant evolution of technology and demands from customers makes it imperative that companies train and upskill their staff.

“A highly trained team leads to a higher level of production, a reduction in waste and costs, and reduced staff turnover. The opportunities in the industry for upskilling are many. A number of companies look for people who might be future leaders or who have potential. Many apprentices and learners I have assisted with over the years have moved into supervisory or management roles.”

Training in the packaging industry is available for people at any stage. “The government subsidies together with the Targeted Training Apprenticeship Fund (TTAF) scheme* have helped more companies get apprentices on their books,” says Steven.

Staff at Opal have ongoing training plans, and where possible, are trained on more than one machine and in different departments to make them more skilled and versatile. Training also benefits employees’ self-esteem.

“Some people have not had any qualifications since leaving school, so completing a certificate is a big achievement for which they are rightly proud,” says Bruce. “Having Competenz account managers regularly visit helps keep trainees on track through their training, helping them to succeed.”

Interested in an apprenticeship? We can help you get started.

*Funding available until December 2022

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