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“Our sector continues to be challenged by significant workforce shortages,” says Fiona Hamilton, Chief Executive at LinkPeople.

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.

“The Apprenticeship in Mental Health and Addiction Support is a great way to attract and then upskill new staff. They learn on the job, and can forge rewarding career pathways supported by their qualifications.

“We actively encourage our staff to complete this Level 4 qualification, and together with Careerforce | Te Pūkenga, support them in their learning journey,” says Fiona.

Willie Tiuli LinkPeople Housing Case Worker

According to work-based training provider, Careerforce, a business division of Te Pūkenga, employers are keen to employ a diverse range of people who may have particular qualities. They may have lived experience of mental illness or a particular awareness of Māori and Pasifika culture and may not necessarily have a degree level qualification.

Apprenticeship was a chance to study and work in job with purpose for Willie

LinkPeople Housing case worker Willie Tiuli left school with no thoughts of studying again. “An opportunity arose where I could both study and work in a job with purpose,” says Willie who has now completed a New Zealand Apprenticeship in Mental Health and Addiction Support and can better support people experiencing homelessness to find a home, keep a home and live well.

Richard MacDonald lost his son to suicide. The tragedy led him to pursue a role supporting others with the same mental health issues his son had struggled with. “I made a decision that I wanted to help support people in my community,” says Richard.

Mental health wasn’t the path Richard originally chose for himself. He had spent fifteen years in dairy farming, and seventeen years as a painter. Working in mental health meant learning new skills.  Richard had also experienced his own addiction and mental health issues, and understood some of the environments where alcohol and violence were prevalent, and where kids like his son had frequented.

“The worse experience I’ve ever had in losing my son has probably given me the most,” says Richard

This understanding meant the learning came relatively easily. Last year, and supported by his employer, Te Oranganui, Richard successfully completed his Level 4 Apprenticeship in Mental Health and Addiction Support with Careerforce. Richard is also now embarking on a Level 5 Health and Wellbeing Diploma.

Richard MacDonald Te Oranganui mental health worker. Monday, July 31, 2023 Whanganui Chronicle photograph by Bevan Conley.

Ten years ago, Vincent Brown had his sights on becoming a chef, but working as a volunteer youth group leader helped him discover a passion for young people.

After a spell as a teacher aide, then a youth advisor he joined the team at Arataki Ministries who support people through transitional housing, community support services and health coaching.

Vincent abandoned a budding culinary career to support people in the community

Arataki Ministries encouraged Vincent to complete a Level 4 Mental Health and Addiction Support Apprenticeship. Vincent is now in a management role and plans to move onto a Bachelor in Health Science majoring in Mental Health and Addictions.

Vincent Brown, Arataki Ministries, Mental Health and Addiction Support champion

Careerforce launched its Apprenticeship in Mental Health and Addiction Support in 2017 to help support the increasing demands in mental health. To date, nearly 1,200 learners have enrolled in the work-based learning programme.

Mental Health and Addiction Support apprentices learn tools and strategies to support their clients’ autonomy, identify goals, address barriers and achieve aspirations. The apprenticeship is delivered in the workplace, supported by online resources and assessments, and typically takes 18 months to complete.

A Careerforce Apprenticeship Advisor works alongside the apprentice to provide one-on-one pastoral care, coaching, guidance and other support to help them achieve their qualification. 

More information

For more information about the Apprenticeship in Mental Health and Addiction Support, contact Careerforce, a business division of Te Pūkenga. Eligible employers can also receive $500/mth Apprenticeship Boost payments for apprentices within their first 24 months extended to December 2024.