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Te Pūkenga business divisions Careerforce and UCOL are working collaboratively to support THINK Hauora with the general practice (primary care) workforce in the Manawatū region to upskill and gain a recognised qualification.

Alaina Cameron, Academic Portfolio Manager Social Services for UCOL, says kaimahi (staff) from within general practice teams will be completing the New Zealand Certificate in Health and Wellbeing (Level 4) – Primary Care Practice Assistance via an apprenticeship programme, which is designed to improve the knowledge and skills of general practice staff to support the effective running of a general practice.

“The programme supports them to perform clinical tasks under the direction and delegation of a health professional and perform administrative tasks to contribute to the effective functioning of general practice. As a result, the Primary Care Practice Assistant is able to provide seamless support to patients and their whānau who are accessing medical care at their general practice.”

Belinda Stone, Learning and Development Manager at THINK Hauora, explains that this initiative has been driven by THINK Hauora, the primary health organisation that serves the primary healthcare needs of the MidCentral Te Whatu Ora districts of Manawatu, Tararua, and Horowhenua by supporting general practice teams.

Te Pūkenga and THINK Hauora collaborate in effort to increase skilled healthcare support workforce

“THINK Hauora looked to develop the care assistant workforce in this important area with a view to standardised training. The mahi that Primary Care Practice Assistants do enables nurses and doctors to work more often at the top of their scope.”

“Careerforce and UCOL identified an opportunity to use their combined skills, knowledge, and resources. This partnership has enabled work-based learning and support for those currently working in a general practice setting in a patient support role (e.g. health care assistant, receptionist) who were interested in developing a career and/or gaining a qualification in health and wellbeing; supporting people, whānau, and the wider healthcare team.”

“This collaborative initiative between Careerforce and UCOL will provide the opportunity to recognise the prior experience of general practice kaimahi, in turn minimising time out of mahi (work) for the kaimahi as they gain relevant health qualifications and establish connections and shared learning across general practice teams.”

Supporting the work-based learning, Careerforce will deliver the Primary Care Practice Assistance Apprenticeship programme utilising UCOL’s facilities and equipment within Te Whaioranga, UCOL’s state-of-the-art purpose-built health and social services education centre.

Anne Meyer, Careerforce Apprenticeship Advisor, says the delivery will reflect strength-based language, address the importance of the skills and cultural competencies to identify with Māori, develop the core skills and attitudes needed by the workforce to support a person-centred approach and to work as part of an integrated team no matter what sector or community they are working in.

“Our first cohort of learners consists of eleven general practice staff from across Palmerston North, Levin and Ōtaki. Each learner has a designated Assessor/Advisor – someone who walks alongside the learner and supports the relationship between them, their employer, and their training.”

Ms Meyer led the launch of the initiative in June, attended by general practice staff from across the region and representatives from THINK Hauora, Careerforce, and UCOL.

“The collaborative partnership between Careerforce, UCOL and THINK Hauora will also focus on scaffolding towards diplomas and degrees, reducing barriers to learning, encouraging the completion of micro- credentials and enable Te Pūkenga business divisions and health organisations to work together to explore future opportunities.”

About UCOL | Te Pūkenga: UCOL | Te Pūkenga inspires ākonga (learners), businesses, and communities to succeed. We are a business division of Te Pūkenga – a strong, unified vocational education system that makes collaboration easier. UCOL is an educational institution with a history dating back to 1892 and has campuses in Manawatū, Whanganui, Wairarapa and Horowhenua.

About Te Pūkenga: Te Pūkenga, New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology, was established in 2020 as one of seven key changes in the Reform of Vocational Education. Te Pūkenga is bringing together a national network of integrated learning that supports learners, employers and communities to gain the skills, knowledge, and capabilities Aotearoa needs now and for the future.