Te Pūkenga kaimahi and industry partners explored opportunities to enhance the experience of ākonga and increase engagement with employers at the Northern Region Learning and Teaching Symposium last week.
24 February 2023
Close to 120 representatives from ITOs, ITPs, industry and Te Pūkenga took the opportunity to collaborate and contribute to the kaupapa, ‘Stronger Together: Designing better outcomes for learners and employers’.
Te Puna Ako Associate Professor, Jocelyn Williams championed the event and recognised it as a chance for vocational education experts and industry across Te Taitokerau to lead the way in building and strengthening realtionships with each other.
“Now that ITPs, ITOs and WBL are united as Te Pūkenga, it's time to build on what we each do well and what can be improved through kōrero and closer collaboration to build consistency and seamless experiences for our ākonga.”
Strengthening Employer Partnerships
Te Pūkenga DCE Learner and Employer Experience and Attraction, Andrew Mc Sweeney led discussion as the keynote speaker. He shared valuable data compiled across the network and seized a vital opportunity to engage with a dedicated team of experts.
As demand for skilled workers across a wide variety of sectors continues to grow both nationally and internationally, the opportunities and variety of career options for learners continues to expand. Andrew outlined his intention to prioritise exploring new opportunities and partnerships that could open the door to new and exciting career paths for learners.
He told symposium participants he intended to place ‘ākonga and employers at the centre of what we do’.
“We’ve got 265,000 ākonga across the network, we have a huge responsibility here and at the moment we have partnerships with 33,000 employers, that’s less than 10 percent of the total number of employers in New Zealand, we are only scratching the surface and through partnering with each other we can build and strengthen partnerships with others.”
Honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi Partnership
Partnerships that enhance the ability of Te Pūkenga to meet its obligations under Tiriti o Waitangi were also flagged as a priority. Māori remain the most underserved cohort of all learners across the country and ensuring they receive the quality of education they deserve was highlighted as a central focus for all Te Pūkenga leaders.
“We have systemic racism issues that have existed for far too long and we have a responsibility to wrap the right support around Māori to ensure they succeed. This isn’t a priority for Te Pūkenga because it was a directive issued by the Minister, this is important to us, because it is the right thing to do,” said Andrew.
The enthusiasm and passion of participants was clear at the symposium and positive feedback is continuing to flow, in particular for the chance the event gave them to talk in small groups about a shared passion for Ako – learning and teaching. Jocelyn says while the hui identified clearly that there are still challenges ahead in bringing ITPs and ITOs together in Ako practice, the shared vision of wanting to provide ākonga with the best opportunities possible was universal.
“We already have so much great practice going on across campus-based and work-based learning and teaching. We just need to share it; we’re not reinventing the wheel or starting from scratch. It was great to hear the practical ideas and initiatives already being created to bring together the best of industry and campus-based learning – for our learners. We need to do a lot more of this and learn to be nimble about it. Being nimble with solutions is possibly the biggest challenge, and for that we need to collaborate”.