Our first six months

To mark our first six months of mahi, Hanga-Aro-Rau's Chief Executive Phil Alexander-Crawford takes a moment to review what we have achieved, alongside our many partners.

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As I reflect on the first six months of Hanga-Aro-Rau, I am buoyed by the collective pūngao or energy I have experienced in our tīma and the many partners we walk alongside to drive transformational change in vocational education.

We’ve achieved so much in such a short time, and we haven’t done it alone. We’re grateful for the support of industry, our Te Tiriti partners, iwi, hapū, the Government, the broader RoVE ecosystem, unions, employers and employees, learners and influencers on this hikoi, especially while we all grapple with the challenges of the global pandemic and nationwide lockdowns.

I am heartened to see how our team has successfully created strong foundations that will serve us well, long into the future. We’ve begun building our internal capacity and capability and honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi in all that we do. We’ve developed our operating model, we’re driving external engagement, and we’re using insights and research to inform and deliver on our workplans, as required by our Order in Council.

But there is so much mahi happening that you perhaps haven’t yet seen.

One of our most significant achievements since the inception of Workforce Development Councils on 04 October 2021, is securing $630,000 of funding for research from the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) COVID-19 Response Fund. This pūtea will support the Manufacturing and Engineering sectors’ recovery from the impact of COVID-19 on their workforce and operations. Work on this research is well underway and we look forward to sharing the results and the meaningful outcomes we will drive from it later in the year.

Underpinning everything we do is the commitment to give a stronger voice to Māori business and iwi/hapū development while honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi in all parts of our work. To help with this, we are in the process of creating our Rangatiratanga Strategy (Māori Workforce Development Plan). Our Hanga-Aro-Rau Pacific Peoples Strategy is also in development.

Success for us means all people in our industries – including business owners, Māori business owners, learners, those from our underserved communities, and employees – are confident that the vocational education system is meeting both their current and future workforce development needs.  

To that end, over the past six months, we’ve prioritised industry engagement, and in March alone, our team engaged with 110 stakeholders to progress our mahi in workforce development.

Our tīma has connected with all 15 Regional Skills Leadership Groups (RSLGs) around Aotearoa. This kōrero will ensure our sectors are represented regionally and there is connectivity between our respective workforce plans, iwi, hapū, Māori employers, and providers including Te Pūkenga, PTEs and Wānanga.

A current work in progress is our Skills and Workforce Leadership Plan, which has seen us engage with six broad sector groupings and survey stakeholders to understand their skills and workforce development priorities in the coming year. The responses will spotlight which sectors initially will need more comprehensive support and strategies. We will share this work with you when it is complete in August.

We have also started the formation of our new independent Industry Stakeholder Group (ISG), as mandated in our Order in Council, and made up of leaders from across the sectors we serve. The ISG will ensure that our industry voice directly influences our strategic direction, performance evaluation, as well as be responsible for the appointment of future Hanga-Aro-Rau Council members.

Internally, we’re in massive growth mode: we now have 37 employees on board and by July, the team will have blossomed to over 70. Our focus is to foster a vibrant, engaging and transformational culture built on stakeholder and Te Tiriti partners, collaboration across the WDC network and the vocational education ecosystem.

We have also realised our commitment to equity through the creation of our operational pou, the three pillars that guide us to embed equity at all levels, translate equity into action, and build equity capacity for all staff and our industries.

While kōrero is important, particularly with our many partners to set the scene for change and understand industry needs, words need action. I recently attended a Hanga-Aro-Rau wānanga in Tauranga where the collective energy of our tīma – an essential ingredient for action – was profound.

A key theme of the wānanga was the understanding that our mahi is not about trying to get better at what has always been done to serve our industries, it is about taking action to drive real transformation of the system. To make vocational education accessible and relevant to all our industries, employers and learners in every region of Aotearoa.

We’re ready to turn words into deeds: I look forward to sharing all that this transformation brings in the next six months and beyond.