Careerforce | Te Pūkenga and UCOL | Te Pūkenga have embarked on a collaborative project to empower kaiāwhina in social services, and health and disability workforces.
Alaina Cameron, UCOL Academic Portfolio Manager for Social Services says this partnership aims to attract more people to enter the health and social services sector to address the workforce gaps through educational opportunities such as introductory sessions as preparation for further study, and for entering the workforce.
"Both Careerforce and UCOL recognised that there were opportunities for both organisations to enhance the learning experiences for kaiāwhina as they had been impacted significantly by COVID-19, immigration changes, and an ageing population."
Careerforce Workplace Advisor, Elaine Dittert adds, "By drawing on industry connections and local networks, it was identified and agreed that not only do we need to attract more ākonga (learners) into health and social services-related studies, but we need to tailor the support provided to current ākonga in order to minimise time away from mahi (work) for kaimahi (staff) as they are studying."
In response, this collaborative project focuses on the kaiāwhina workforce and supporting current ākonga to complete their qualification. Accommodating the varied schedules of Careerforce ākonga currently enrolled in the New Zealand Certificates in Health and Wellbeing Levels 2 and 3, weekly facilitated sessions are held at Te Whaioranga, UCOL’s new purpose-built health, medical imaging, and social services education centre at 30 Queen Street, Palmerston North.
"Together, we are offering ākonga a hands-on learning experience that goes beyond traditional classrooms. In our weekly sessions, and in sessions to come, ākonga will be able to explore different fields of study and learn by actually doing in a realistic setting with colleagues and kaiāwhina from industry, and gain practical skills in health care and social services."
"It’s been an amazing opportunity for our ākonga, and we hope to continue these drop-in sessions all year round using the fantastic facilities at Te Whaioranga."
"The initiative is a win-win for ākonga and employers. The collaboration between Careerforce and UCOL is a game-changer for both work-based learners and employers. Our ākonga receive personalised support and guidance in a relaxed environment, enhancing their learning journey. At the same time, employers will have the opportunity to gain access to a highly skilled workforce, fuelling the growth of the health care sector."
"We know that there is high demand for, and a shortage of, skilled social services and healthcare workers which we are aiming to address - employers have advised us that they would support placements of ākonga through this initiative with the intent to employ as they can see the benefit of such collaboration and preparing ākonga to join the kaiāwhina workforce"
Alaina Cameron says that this project is the start of the collaborative relationship within Te Pūkenga.
"We’re teaming up on a number of other exciting projects which will be rolled out in the second half of 2023 including, running weekly workshops on the Whanganui Campus for current ākonga to support them to complete their qualification; a 6-week programme providing a ‘taster’ to working in the Health and Wellbeing sector; mini education sessions on high-prevalence and high-impact health conditions in Manawatū and Whanganui; and further educational opportunities for the current kaiāwhina workforce."
"These initiatives will include supporting future ākonga who are interested in healthcare to gain qualifications and employment, working with industry to upskill those in the health sector, helping recognise prior kaiāwhina experience and minimising time out of mahi (work)."
The kaiāwhina workforce consists of several occupations such as Māori Health Assistants, Disability Support workers, Aged-care workers, Peer Support workers, hospital Orderlies and Healthcare assistants to mention some. The collaboration between Careerforce and UCOL has a significant and meaningful part to play in the health and wellbeing of our whānau and communities, as well as alleviating stressors on the regulated healthcare workforce by providing pathways into social services and the healthcare workforce for all people, and recognising the work experience of current kaiāwhina towards gaining a qualification.