We asked Deaf Aotearoa how they supported their staff in training when they were spread far and wide across the country. Deaf Aotearoa is a national organisation representing the voice of Deaf people, and the national service provider for Deaf people in New Zealand.  Eighteen months ago, the organisation made a commitment to invest on training. They decided to train their staff to recognise their skills and experience with a formal qualification. They wanted to support their growth as service providers to benefit Deaf Aotearoa’s service users.

They started by putting 38 of their staff into training. These staff were across 14 offices around New Zealand. Deaf Aotearoa has one assessor who supports all staff to achieve a Level 3 New Zealand Certificate in Health and Wellbeing. It seemed daunting initially to Kayte Shaw, who became the registered assessor. This additional function is on top of her already busy role as a Community Development Kaituitui. “Being the only assessor for Deaf Aotearoa and being a nationwide organisation did have its challenges because I wasn’t there on the ground with all the staff at all times,” Kayte shares.

How Deaf Aotearoa bridged the distance

So how did they do it? Here’s what Deaf Aotearoa had to say on how they made sure distance did not become a barrier to training.

  1. They established clear communication lines.

“The trainees needed to know who they could talk to for support. Could they come to me as an assessor or should they go to their team leaders? Within that we figured out a good balance of communication. There were some things that were best to go to the team leaders for. And for really in-depth course material stuff, they came to me. As an assessor, I could talk them through what the workbooks meant and what I was after to get them on the right path,” Kayte shares.

To balance her full time role and assessor responsibilities, Kayte had dedicated days where she only wore her assessor hat. She wanted to make sure that trainees were getting the right amount of time and support to successfully complete. “They know they can contact me on that day and I won’t be distracted by anything else,” Kayte adds.

  1. They got everyone on board.

Deaf Aotearoa attributes successfully embarking on work-based training to having everyone on board. Management, HR, Team Leaders and the assessor at Deaf Aotearoa are all committed to supporting their colleagues.

“Having a really good team behind you, working with the team leaders who are the observers for the trainees… you need to have a good relationship with them too to make sure things are running smoothly,” says Kayte.

They made use of observers in the workplace to support the assessment process. The observers are the eyes and ears of the assessor. They support assessors by collecting evidence of a trainee’s competence. Observers know the standard of performance that their organisation expects of a trainee, and working alongside the trainee they’re able to capture “naturally occurring evidence”.

Read more about the role of observers in workplace training

  1. They made use of available technology.

Technology helped to bridge the distance gap. They used Skype to discuss what they’d learnt, ask questions, discuss challenges faced and reflect on their new learning. Skype supported their learning and assessment using their preferred or first language which is New Zealand Sign Language.

“We’ve got skype for business. I can have one-on-one and face-to-face conversations with people that aren’t in my office. That just made the whole process of studying a lot easier and less overwhelming when you’ve actually got a face to talk to,” Kayte shares.

It’s not always easy to break the distance barrier to training but Kayte and their whole team are committed. They’ve seen the difference training has made to their staff and the way they deliver their services. They recommend work-based training despite the challenges and effort needed to overcome any barrier.

“It’s really beneficial for your organisation because the staff are working with your service users. They are at the front of the organisation. By upskilling your staff, you’re really making your organisation stronger overall,” Kayte adds.

Kayte Shaw, assessor for Deaf Aotearoa, shares her thoughts on why she’s committed
to training despite some barriers encountered along the way.

Read more: Making workplace training accessible
Read more: Training investment leads to skilled workforce for Deaf Aotearoa


How can we help you?

Contact us to discuss how we can help your organisation break the barriers to training. Give us a call at 0800 277 486 or send us a message at info@careerforce.org.nz to have a Careerforce Advisor get in touch with you.

Share:Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn