A huge amount of progress has taken place within Te Pūkenga since our establishment on 1 April 2020. It feels like far more than only nine months has passed since we stood up our virtual headquarters in the midst of Level 4 lockdown and without even a final and official name. We’ve come a long way.
Here are some highlights:
Starting from the top – big focus on leadership and governance
Our Council had its inaugural meeting on 1 April via Zoom. Led by Chair Murray Strong, its first official activity as a new Crown Entity was to note the establishment, functions and Charter of the New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology. Over the following fortnight, meetings of each of the 16 new subsidiary boards were held, with attendance by members of the Council.
We welcomed Stephen Town as our inaugural Chief Executive on 6 July 2020 with a pōwhiri at Te Kōpū Mānia o Kirikiriroa marae at the Wintec city campus in Hamilton. Council Chair Murray thanked Chris Collins, CE of EIT, for the work he did in the preceding three months as interim CE until Stephen’s start.
Stephen, in turn, welcomed his executive leadership team on board from September through November, when a combined pōwhiri was held. Based in Hamilton with Stephen are deputy chief executives (DCEs) Dr Angela Beaton, responsible for Delivery and Academic; Merran Davis, leading Transformation and Transition; Tania Winslade, leading Learner Journey and Experience; and Vaughan Payne, who heads up Operations. DCE Ana Morrison who leads Partnerships and Equity splits her time between Hamilton and Rotorua and DCE Warwick Quinn leads Employer Journey and Experience from Wellington.
The executive leadership team has embraced the entrepreneurial spirit that comes with working in a lean environment, mucking in and getting things done to maintain momentum, solve today’s challenges and prepare to deliver on the promise of a cohesive, sustainable vocational education system that puts learners at the centre and delivers equitable outcomes for Māori.
Finally, a head office and a name!
Our head office location was confirmed in June 2020 and we moved into Wintec House in August, a year on from when the Minister of Education, Hon Chris Hipkins announced the decisions of the Reform of Vocational Education on 1 August 2019.
On 29 September 2020, Minister Hipkins officially announced our permanent and ‘forever name’ at an event in Wintec House, inviting staff, learners, employers and officials, while maintaining COVID Level 1 guidelines.
Big work in progress
In the last three months of the year, as the DCEs got their feet under their desks, the pace has ramped up even further. In that time, we have selected a partner to co-design our operating model to reimagine vocational education and training; launched Te Pae Tawhiti – our Te Tiriti Excellence Framework; and engaged ākonga/learners in a deep and wide national research project to understand their unique needs.
In November we announced our partnership with EY and EY (Tahi), who will work with us to facilitate the co-design of our operating model. DCE Merran Davis is leading this work. Since the announcement, Te Pūkenga and EY have put plans in place to develop the co-design process. The process is centred in design-led thinking to ensure the very people that the outcomes will impact play a core role in thinking, testing and deciding.
Will Workman helped us author our Te Tiriti o Waitangi excellence framework, Te Pae Tawhiti, which remains a working draft. DCE Ana Morrison is leading the implementation of the framework, which is focused on ensuring services work well and respond with excellence to the needs of Māori learners and their whānau, and the aspirations of iwi and Māori communities throughout Aotearoa. This objective is driven from legislative mandate, Te Pūkenga Charter, regulatory guidance, and from the will of the governing Council and leadership.
In the Learner Journey and Experience space, DCE Tania Winslade and a research team from across the broad network have mobilised staff at subsidiaries and transitional industry training organisations to facilitate focus groups and larger workshop-type activities, both in person and virtually in every region of the country. Learners, trainees, apprentices and the staff who support them, all contributed to understanding the enablers and barriers to engaging in vocational learning from the earliest point of thinking about it, through to finding a job once a qualification has been achieved. The knowledge and insights gained will inform the operating model development to break down barriers and amplify enablers across the system.
Michelle Tierney, on secondment from MIT as our acting Chief Financial Officer, progressed the Capital Asset Management Strategy and other important financial activities. DCE Vaughan Payne is now driving further operations capability, setting up the BAU operations and considering where efficiencies can be gained through combined information systems, financial and funding models to help move Te Pūkenga to a more sustainable foundation.
We’ve begun to engage employers to better understand their needs, and their unique challenges inside the vocational education system as DCE Warwick Quinn establishes his programme of work.
Poari Akoranga, the academic board for Te Pūkenga was set up earlier in the year and has welcomed DCE Dr Angela Beaton in her leadership role. Poari Akoranga provides strategic academic direction and leadership, and a national infrastructure to ensure quality, compliance and consistency of teaching and learning.
The New Year will see rapid evolution of the process to design our operating model, which is expected to go to consultation later in 2021.