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Mātauranga me te whakangungu

Our people are highly trained. We need them to master their profession and to know how apply those skills as part of a team, operating in complex and uncertain environments.

A new recruit's training starts when they join the Defence Force. They are immersed in military culture, learn how to work as a team, and are familiarised with following detailed instructions. No-one works alone. As a team, recruits get used to working quickly and with urgency, in order to complete tasks. They learn basic skills like weapon handling, first aid and drill. This is all part of developing a culture of being able to perform tasks in tough situations, under the direction of a leader and in a team with people who can be relied upon.

How does a civilian transition into a sailor, soldier or airman?
It starts with the basics.

Basic training, also known as recruit training, is designed to take a person from civilian to a competent and self-disciplined military person while confirming that person’s suitability for life in the forces.

They may have passed the aptitude tests and have the right qualifications, but after walking through the gate at a military base and ‘signing on the line’, the Defence Force needs to confirm that our recruits are suitable for a career in the military. They need to be sure about the choice they’re making as well.

Under limited controlled stress, in a controlled environment, recruits learn to work as a team to support one another. They become accustomed to following orders, adapting to military discipline, moving with urgency, and learning self-discipline – including how to care for and clean their uniform. Physically, they become fitter and stronger.

Basic training usually takes 15 – 18 weeks. As recruits progress through, they build institutional knowledge about the Defence Force and the service they are in. We boost their confidence, self-esteem and self-respect.

Drill and parade ground training becomes an important part of military life because it teaches our people to think and work as a team, and to complete instructions quickly and correctly. In an emergency, this ‘muscle memory’ and ability to react quickly and without hesitation will come in handy when our people need to respond to a superior’s command. It may save their life or the life of a comrade.

Core military skills include weapons training, first aid, navigation, and lessons on military law. Recruits are welcomed onto their service marae as part of their journey into their service and the New Zealand Defence Force whānau.

Basic or recruit training concludes with a formal graduation ceremony in front of family and friends.

With over 100 unique trades across the three Services the NZDF offers the greatest choice of career options and ongoing training of any New Zealand employer.

When we refer to trade, we mean an individual's specific role or line of work. Defence Force personnel are employed in an array of positions typically associated with the equivalent civilian trades; including construction, engineering and hospitality' as well as broader areas such as combat, medical support, vehicle operations and communications.

New members of our Defence Force usually choose a particular trade prior to starting a career in the Defence Force, and training for that trade will require professional development. Trade training is usually done within our Defence Force, but it may also involve study outside of the military. NZDF trades and careers utilise a wide variety of tertiary education paths spanning across university, technology and trade training.

When our people up-skill within their trade, they are provided a high standard of education. Today, much of the trade training in the military has achieved parity with civilian qualifications, meaning that the training our people complete will earn them the equivalent qualification for civilian life. In some instances, such as the chef trade, the qualification undertaken as part of trade training is the civilian industry qualification.

All full time personnel can further upskill using the Voluntary Education Study Assistance programme, which provides financial assistance to undertake part-time study towards a Level 4 or higher qualification on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework.

Effective leadership is at the heart of the New Zealand Defence Force.

At its most basic level, leadership is about behaviour. It's about the building of effective relationships to influence the actions of other people and enable them to contribute to our success in a professional and ethical manner.

People might think that military leadership is clear-cut. But in fact, there is no single approach or leadership style that fits the New Zealand Defence Force. 

Unlike a business leader, our leaders work in a constantly evolving military context. There are physical risks, moral challenges and psychological pressures. It means our leaders need to constantly assess the situation and environment, so that they can adjust their behaviour appropriately.

From the beginning, everyone in the New Zealand Defence Force accepts that that they have a responsibility to support their own development. This is known as ‘Lead Self’ in the New Zealand Defence Force Leadership Development system. The system progresses through Lead Teams, Lead Leaders, Lead Systems, Lead Capability, Lead Integrated Capability and Lead Organisation. This system supports the progression and transitioning of our leaders.

Our leadership development is strongly aligned with workplace experiences. Formal education, training and courses all contribute to leadership, as does personal coaching, but the development of leaders within the workplace is a strongly-embedded principle of NZDF. Our leadership skills expand when exposed to novel situations. New experiences are ingrained within the NZDF, due to the required posting cycle and rotation of military personnel.

As our people's careers progress, they are immersed in the philosophy of every person in the NZDF being a leader, and that leadership development is shared across the organisation. Our leaders never stop learning, and are constantly developing skills on the job. It's part of our culture that our leaders develop other leaders, because as personnel progress, are promoted or change roles, we must have leaders following in their footsteps.

As our people progress in their career, the experience gained in both their trade and their leadership will naturally lend itself to roles as an instructor and in management.

Being ready to share skills with the next generation, or utilising skills and knowledge to manage the organisation strategically, is part of career progression in the New Zealand Defence Force.

The New Zealand Defence College (NZDC) provides the framework for the learning strategy and policy across the Defence Force and ensures that our instructors and learning managers are aligned with the Defence Force education system. Our people hold roles instructing in a wide variety of fields, such as at the Seamanship Training Aid Facility in Devonport, the Combat School in Waiouru and the Central Flying School at Ohakea. 

The New Zealand Defence Force is constantly upgrading to keep up with technology and adapting to international developments. Personnel, as they grow in their careers and achieve seniority, can become managers of teams and projects, using their skills, knowledge and insights to help the New Zealand Defence Force deliver not only defence capability, but grow as a modern government organisation and employer. Personnel, both in the civilian workforce as well as military, are able to advance their careers in management in the New Zealand Defence Force just like any other government department.

Considering a career where you can lead a team?

A career in the Defence Force is unlike anything out there. As your training and experience progresses, you’ll be given the opportunity to lead a tight-knit team, trained and ready to assist whenever and wherever you are needed. It’s an incredibly rewarding job that gives you a real sense of purpose.

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