Hanga-Aro-Rau Workforce Development Council (WDC) is taking a proactive, evidence-based approach to programme endorsement and quality assurance, and it’s been paying dividends.

As a follow-up to the insights provided by Yvonne O’Callaghan, Hanga-Aro-Rau General Manager of Improvement & Operations, about her team’s collaborative approach to quality assurance, we connected with two providers to find out how this strategic shift has impacted them.  They signalled that this new way of working is empowering them to have their voices heard and to ensure that everyone can play a part in creating fit-for-purpose training programmes, now and in the future.

“As a smaller training provider, we often felt quite stymied in the past,” says Tyree Connor, Manager of Quality Consultants NZ (QCONZ).  “Now, working with the WDCs, I feel that I’m supported by the best quality assurance professionals in the education and training ecosystem.  We recently approached Hanga-Aro-Rau for some help with a very specific qualification for New Zealand Milking and Pumping Trade Association (NZMPTA).  Really quickly, within a couple of weeks, we started seeing results.  They were able to come back to us with support and endorsement to build a Selecting the Right Pump for Rural Fluid Systems micro-credential.”

Adam Cunningham, General Manager of Fairview Education, reflects a similar experience. “We sometimes struggled to be heard in the previous system and often felt like we were watching from the sidelines.  Automotive qualifications didn’t have a strong industry focus or a clear roadmap back to industry needs and expectations.  This is what the WDCs are focusing on.  Since Hanga-Aro-Rau has come in, I’ve enjoyed the industry focus and the level of communication.   They have also helped connect us with schools and promote the automotive industry with emerging professionals across New Zealand.

“Because we’d been left out of programme endorsement discussions for so long, some of our assessments became out of date.  I wanted to benchmark the quality of what we were delivering and I sent a number of units off for review.  Hanga-Aro-Rau quickly identified some recurring issues and clarified what we needed to do to get those old units up to the right level.  They have invested their time, energy and support into bringing both our units and our knowledge up to date.”

Tyree and Adam say that the support of Hanga-Aro-Rau has enabled them to influence the programme endorsement process and helped to build their confidence as training providers.  “I truly believe that the WDCs are standing up for industry,” Tyree says.  “I see Hanga-Aro-Rau looking at quality assurance as an improvement opportunity for all rather than as a back office box-ticking exercise.  They acknowledge that there is a learning curve and that by working together, we can raise the bar for everyone.  We’re already seeing the results of that approach.”

“Having the freedom to ring up or email the WDC, talk through an idea and get some clear data to guide our path forward is a huge asset,” Adam adds.  “They’re also creating strong national links; as a small Private Training Establishment, we can sometimes feel quite isolated.  Hanga-Aro-Rau has provided us with increased opportunities to connect nationally with the sector and reach stakeholders and potential employees across all regions.”  

“The people that we’re working alongside at the WDCs have built a very good culture and are brilliant at what they do,” Tyree reflects.  “Perhaps the most important outcome of this systematic shift is that I now feel confident that our programme endorsement work will be done right the first time.  Hanga-Aro-Rau brings ideas to our discussions and they are willing to brainstorm solutions with us, rather than expecting us to do that work in isolation.  It’s a paradigm shift from the previous model, and absolutely the way it should be.”