Pacific learning success in the workplace

posted: 1:17 pm - 29th September 2017

Photo courtesy: Gui Taccetti

A highly anticipated report on the success of Pacific learners in the workplace was launched this week at the Pacific Tertiary Education Forum in Auckland.

The research report, Pacific Learner Success in Workplace Settings, focuses on exploring key links, barriers and solutions leading to higher achievement for Pacific trainees in the workplace.

The report is based on a consortium of four Industry Training Organisations (ITOs); Careerforce, The Skills Organisation, ServiceIQ, and Competenz, who have designed and implemented various pilot training programmes focusing on Pacific trainees.

The report findings show that a little help from friends, coupled with a supportive employer and a good relationship with their training facilitator, goes a long way to ensuring successful learning outcomes for Pacific trainees.

Ifi Ripley, Careerforce’s Learning Engagement Advisor who helped lead the ITO’s two-year research programme says that excitingly, the research has shown that supportive workplace and family environments, good relationships with training facilitators and small learner support groups help make a positive difference to the success of Pacific trainees.

“As we know, industry training and learning in general is never a one-size-fits-all approach, so the report recommends training facilitators contextualise and tailor learning based on the understanding and strengths of the specific learning group.”

Ms Ripley says the portrait of a typical Pacific household is one where looking after family comes first, before work or educational commitments.

“So naturally, Pacific learners need to prioritise learning, work and family and having that family support is also a key factor for success,” she says.

“Some also have English as a second language, so language can be a barrier for some learners, as understanding course materials and completing assessments in English can take longer for them.”

For its part in the research report, Careerforce focused on Peer Mentoring programmes for Pacific trainees studying the ITO’s Youth Work Level 3 and 4 qualifications and its Health and Wellbeing Level 2 qualification, to understand what challenges they faced and what the best way to support them through their training journey is.

The industry-based training system, which comprises of on-the-job training facilitated by the employer and training facilitator, has the workplace as the classroom, which not only recognises and respects the trainees’ existing skills and competencies, but also helps remove major financial barriers to achieving higher education, as trainees can learn while earning a wage and supporting themselves and their families.

Careerforce Acting CEO Gill Genet says New Zealand is home to a growing Pacific population and enhancing educational outcomes for their communities is a priority for the Tertiary Education Commission, the key body that delivers funding to tertiary institutions and industry training organisations. 

“While educational outcomes for Pacific people in New Zealand are improving, more work needs to be done to address any disparities between Pacific learners and other New Zealand learners,” Ms Genet says.

“According to our research and the TEC statistics, we see that Pacific learners are less likely to complete their qualifications, so it’s important that ITOs, employers and training facilitators work together to ensure the best possible success rates for our Pacific learners and tailor support mechanisms and training accordingly,” she says.

Ms Genet says Careerforce is committed to providing targeted support to Pasifika trainees and their employers by way of understanding what they need to successfully complete training, and connecting them with the right support, at the right times.

“Our aim is to continue building a mutual understanding of the evidence-based training support needs that work for Pacific trainees, and then acting on those findings.”

The research was undertaken by Pacific owned and led consultancy Pacific Perspectives Limited for Ako Aotearoa, the National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence.

To access a copy of research report click here.