Otago and Southland apprentices gain in collaborative Te Pūkenga trial


Otago and Southland apprentices gain in collaborative Te Pūkenga trial

September 14, 2023 | 4 min read

Otago and Southland region apprentices were more productive, knowledgeable, confident and engaged following a 16-month trial by Te Pūkenga | New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology to unify the approach to the New Zealand Certificate in Carpentry Level 4.

The Otago Regional Service Delivery Trial involved Otago Polytechnic, Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) and the Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO) in a collaboration to create a unified and coherent experience for L4 Carpentry apprentices and their employers, and to capture lessons learned that could be applied nationally.

The trial was established as an opportunity for the three formerly competing providers (now business divisions within Te Pūkenga) to explore ideas, test initiatives, and implement ways to unify the delivery of their respective L4 Carpentry programmes to support better outcomes for the approximately 100 carpentry apprentices involved across the region.

“The trial was about understanding how local networks working together could better meet the needs of local apprentices and their employers,” said Dr Megan Gibbons, Te Pūkenga Deputy Chief Executive Academic Centre and Learning Systems (and formerly Chief Executive of Otago Polytechnic).

“Previously, learners and employers found it a fractured and confusing landscape to navigate. The three providers offered quite different programmes and learner management systems for the L4 Carpentry apprenticeship, as well as different pricing models and different levels of support for the apprentices’ learning and progression.”

The BCITO programme is a New Zealand Apprenticeship while Otago Polytechnic and SIT offer campus-led apprenticeships (known as Managed Apprenticeships).

All three programmes rely on on-the-job teaching and assessment which is led by the employer. BCITO’s programme is all on-job teaching and assessment while Otago Polytechnic’s and SIT’s programmes offer on-campus training for some teaching and assessment.

The successful collaboration which involved adopting the best elements of each programme delivered a range of benefits.

The sharing and adoption of BCITO’s learning resources was augmented by the offering of night classes and on-campus day release classes by Otago Polytechnic and SIT.

“These were highly valued by many apprentices and employers. They helped to improve and consolidate the apprentices’ knowledge and understanding of key topics,” says Dr Gibbons.

Comments from apprentices ranged from: “Awesome class… would recommend to all apprentices,” “The classes really help me understand the BCITO training material, I have never learnt that well by just reading,” and “Great course, learning lots to take to the workplace.”

Surveyed employers said their carpentry apprentices were “more productive, knowledgeable, confident and engaged at work” at the trial’s end.

The trial began in March 2022 and ended in June 2023. It was funded by the Tertiary Education Commission under its Strategic Component Funding for vocational education.

A number of initiatives are being progressed beyond the trial. SIT is planning to hold its first week-long joint block course for BCITO and SIT apprentices in September and is planning a suite of further off-job initiatives. SIT is also continuing to work with Otago Polytechnic on sharing its learning resources developed using BCITO materials. 

The report of the trial Otago Regional Service Delivery Trial Carpentry Level 4 Report provides 10 recommendations.

“There are lots of valuable learnings from this trial that we can apply to the integration of other programmes in other regions, all with the aim of better supporting ākonga and employers in delivering stronger learning outcomes,” says Dr Gibbons.