The Te Pūkenga commitment to ensure a re-imagined vocational education system with learners at its centre is in full swing. The first stage of the Ākonga at the Centre national engagement with learners has been a hugely successful exercise with many thoughts, opinions and ideas now ready to be collated. The success was in no small part down to a dedicated group of staff from subsidiaries and Transitional ITOs who worked with the Te Pūkenga research team to make sure the whole activity was set up for success.
The Ākonga at the Centre research team, supported by the network forum, facilitated small focus groups and larger workshop-type activities, both in person and virtually in every region of the country. With learners, trainees, apprentices and the staff and community who support them, all contributing, the group has completed its first goal of gathering feedback from a diverse group of learners and those who support them.
The efforts of staff who made up the network forum and helped make this project so successful cannot go unrecognised. They helped co-design the engagement approach that the research team then took into each region to ensure it fitted in with the uniqueness of their area and their learners. This careful and well-considered focus has contributed immensely to achieving this project successfully.
“The network forum has been awesome,” says Debbie Preston, Te Pūkenga Ākonga at the Centre Capability Lead. “Without their support we would not have been able to set this research up, get the learners invited and involved, and make sure it ran as smoothly and successfully as it did. We had 38 people from subsidiaries and Transitional ITOs who were nominated by their CEs to be members of the forum. I think they also enjoyed the chance to come together, meet each other, and share their passion for learner success.
“I really want to pass on my gratitude to the staff who were involved in the network forum, you came together, collaborated and worked tirelessly and collectively to get the best outcomes for our learners now and of the future.”
People from all walks of life and backgrounds were involved as over 1,300 learners, trainees, and apprentices, tutors, support staff and advisors, employers, community members and whānau from subsidiaries and Transitional ITOs participated in the workshops and focus groups. The focus groups concentrated on learners that the system currently underserves (Māori, Pacific and learners with disabilities, as well as people who support them). The outcomes will form the basis of the research findings. Many thoughts have been gathered on post-its which depict thousands of enablers and barriers and that’s just part of the data that will be reviewed and collated in the next phase. Debbie says, “Different regions, diversities, those who are currently underserved by the system and those needing different levels of support throughout their learning journey all need to be taken into account in the co-design phase of our operating model – this was never going to be a one-size-fits-all. We sincerely thank everyone from the wider network who has helped us complete this gigantic task. We been enlightened by the many passionate learners we’ve engaged with and delighted with their positivity towards their learning journeys. Many different people at different life stages have contributed and we thank you all immensely, we couldn’t understand the true complexity of the paths you follow and what affects your success if you hadn’t shared so openly with our team.”
Next up on the workplan is the data crunching. With 1,000’s of post-it notes from workshops and around 6,000 key statements from the focus groups developed by the learners themselves during the workshops, about identifying barriers and enablers to successful learning outcomes, we are now able to make great progress to ensure we’re putting ākonga at the centre.