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Housing Case worker, Willie Tiuli proudly supports people to find a home, keep a home, and live well.

Though he left school with no thoughts of studying again, Willie has now completed a New Zealand Apprenticeship in Mental Health and Addiction Support, so that he can better support people experiencing homelessness.

Gaining a nationally recognised qualification is thanks to the commitment from his employer LinkPeople, and support from work-based training provider Careerforce, a business division of Te Pūkenga.

“Although, I didn’t see myself studying after school, I had a real desire to do something to help people,” says Willie.


Careerforce graduate Willie Tiuli

Apprenticeship is chance to study and work in job with purpose

“An opportunity arose where I could both study and work in a job with purpose. LinkPeople offered me the apprenticeship and with the incentive of a pay rise.

“Studying was a new experience for me, and an opportunity that I just had to take.”

LinkPeople is a Community Housing Provider that helps people find permanent, stable housing and works with them to ensure they can access the health, social and wellbeing support they need to stay there.


Sector challenged by workforce shortages

Fiona Hamilton, Chief Executive at LinkPeople praised the apprenticeship model. “Our sector continues to be challenged by significant workforce shortages, and the Apprenticeship in Mental Health and Addiction Support is a great way to attract and then upskill new staff. They are able to learn on the job, and forge rewarding career pathways supported by their qualifications. We actively encourage our staff to complete this Level 4 qualification, and together with Careerforce, support them in their learning journey.”

Fiona Hamilton, Chief Executive at LinkPeople

The organisation follows a ‘Housing First philosophy’ that suggests having a stable and suitable home is the foundation of a person’s wellbeing.

“Many of our people face addiction or mental health challenges. We get them into housing, on a road to wellness and help them get their life back on track,” says Willie.

“When this happens, we see some real wins.”

“I work primarily to care for the client. Housing is the priority, and then we try to integrate them back into society.  I also support them with other needs such as counselling, connections and getting their income sorted.”

“To get the skills I needed, I realised I needed to complete this apprenticeship programme. When I started, some of what I was learning used examples of things I was already doing with our clients. It was a kind of a self-reflection on what I do and what I can do better next time.

Working in this sector can be physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging at times and keeping on top of the assessments wasn’t always easy for Willie. However, his Careerforce Apprenticeship Advisor, Alyssia Paekau helped him to keep on top of things.


Great support systems in place to help with apprenticeship 

“Alyssia was awesome. Her expertise is amazing!

“The support systems are great. Apart from the support from Careerforce and Alyssia, LinkPeople also gave us study leave. There was also support from my colleagues, and we have helped each other out.”

Now that Willie has completed his apprenticeship, he is keen to keep up the momentum. “I’d like to work with more people with mental health issues and addiction challenges, and I can definitely see myself carrying on and completing the Health and Wellbeing Level 5 Diploma.”

Careerforce Apprenticeships are workplace training programmes leading to the New Zealand Certificate in Health and Wellbeing (Level 4). A nationwide team of dedicated Apprenticeship Advisors provide pastoral care and support to apprentices. Careerforce first launched its apprenticeship programmes in 2016, and currently has nearly 500 apprentices enrolled in its Mental Health and Addiction Support programme and nearly 700 having completed the programme to date.

The Government also recently announced the extension of the Apprenticeship Boost fund through to December 2024, which allows employers to claim $500/mth per apprentice in their first 24 months of their apprenticeship programme. Rod Bentham, Executive Director at Careerforce | Te Pūkenga welcomed the extension; “Apprenticeship boost was a welcome financial relief for our employers through Covid-19, and I’m sure its extension will allow our employers to continue to support their kaimahi through our apprenticeship programmes”.


More information

For more information about the Mental Health and Addiction Support apprenticeship programme and Apprenticeship Boost, contact Careerforce, a business division of Te Pūkenga.