Our Workforce Development Pipeline

In 2009, seated between the Honourable Bill English and Sir Stephen Tindall before a Prime Ministerial Job Summit, I had a conversation which has since triggered some very exciting initiatives at CMDHB. The discussion was about the fact that healthcare is one of the biggest providers of New Zealand jobs. That’s certainly true of CMDHB – we are the biggest employer in Manukau City. Despite this, healthcare routinely imports a great deal of its workforce from overseas (myself included). Surely it makes better sense to enrich our local community with the education and jobs we can offer?

Thanks to the generosity of Sir Stephen Tindall and The Tindall Foundation, and the dedication of the South Auckland Health Foundation, we were able to expand activities to grow our own workforce in 2010 which complemented our existing workforce development initiatives. Three years later, this has developed into a workforce development pipeline which is generating some inspiring local success stories. Our Workforce Development Manager, Jenna Clarke, is blogging with me today to share more about this work.

There are several components to our workforce development pipeline, starting in schools with our Health Could B 4 U programme and Health Science Academies, both of which encourage students to consider and pursue healthcare as a career, to the 75 scholarships we offer for tertiary study, our Earn and Learn initiative and new graduate employment here at CMDHB. Earn and Learn is a particularly important aspect of what we offer. Travelling to Dunedin to pursue a healthcare career and racking up a big student loan in the process isn’t a feasible option for many South Aucklanders, especially our mature students. The idea is to create a seamless pipeline that supports and develops talent locally, from school through to employment.

Take James for example. When he was a local high school student at De La Salle College, he was involved in Health Could B 4 U, sparking his interest in healthcare as a career. He did work exposure placements at Middlemore during his school holidays and also got a part-time job working as a hospital orderly. After leaving school, he successfully applied for a Ko Awatea scholarship. He’s now studying a Bachelor of Nursing – Pacific at MIT and is involved in our Earn and Learn Pacific Nursing Pilot (the same initiative that won the Workforce Award at last week’s Health Excellence Awards). James plans to work at CMDHB when he graduates, completing his pipeline journey and injecting local talent into our organisation.

There are several benefits to investing in people like James and developing a local health workforce. Employing locally will improve health literacy, access to income and health outcomes for our local community. If we can have a qualified and employed nurse, for example, in homes throughout Counties Manukau, imagine how different the health outcomes for our population would be.

We also have an obligation as a DHB to ensure that our organisation reflects our community in terms of diversity. A local workforce will intuitively relate to local patients and understand their language, their background and the challenges they face. It’s not a nice-to-have but a vital part of ensuring that both our organisation and our community thrive. Our workforce is currently 6% Maaori and 10% Pacific, while our population is 17% Maaori and 21% Pacific. There’s still some way to go but we are closing this gap.

And success stories like James’ speak for themselves. You may remember the piece on TV One News from December last year about the Health Science Academies at Tangaroa College and James Cook High School? These academies, which support students to take health science subjects so that they can pursue a career in health, have generated a definite buzz. The number of students enrolled in Year 12 science at Tangaroa College has grown from eight before the academy to now more than 40 and the principal’s busy finding classroom space and resources to cater for the demand! This aspiration and ambition is hugely positive for our local community, regardless of whether or not these students one day end up working here. The Tindall Foundation is so impressed with the progress achieved it is applying the model to other industries to develop more local talent.

All of this is hugely important because our workforce is our greatest asset, ahead of buildings, equipment or beds. Investing in you, and in tomorrow’s workforce, is crucial if we want to be sustainable, excellent and the best in Australasia.

Talking about the value of our staff, it’s a huge relief to know that our biomedical technician Ronnie Fong has been found safe and well after three days lost in the Hunua Ranges. Great to have you back with us Ronnie.

Geraint and Jenna


Author: Geraint Martin

Geraint Martin was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Counties Manukau DHB in December 2006. It is one of the largest District Health Boards in New Zealand and services a population of half a million. He has significant experience over 30 years in national policy & in managing both primary and secondary care . Previously, he was Director of Health and Social Care Strategy at the Welsh Government .He authored a radical 10 year strategy of reform, including the successful “Saving 1000 lives” Campaign.Until 2004, he was CEO at Kettering General Hospital & had held senior positions in London & Birmingham.He has worked closely with clinicians in improving clinical standards,patient safety,chronic disease management & managing acute care to reduce hospital demand.In NZ, He has promoted clinical quality and leadership as central to improving patientcare. This has led to a significant increases in productivity and access, whilst maintaining financial balance. CMH has completed in 2014 a $500 m capital redevelopment programme, the largest in New Zealand. A central part of this is the establishment of Ko Awatea,the Centre for Innovation and Research which will underpin CMH as one of the the leading health systems in Australasia.In 2008, he chaired the Ministerial Review of Emergency Care in New Zealand, and in 2013 was an member of the Expert Advisory Panel on Health Sector Performance. Geraint has an MSc in Health Policy from Birmingham University .His post-graduate work has focused on health economics and Corporate Strategy . He is adjunct Professor of Healthcare Management at AUT and Victoria University, Wellington Elected in 2006 as a Companion of the Institute of Healthcare Management, previously he was an Associate Fellow at Birmingham University.He is is Chair of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, a member of the Institute of Directors, on the Board of the NZ Institute of Health Management & previously the Board of The NZ Health Quality and Safety Commission.

4 thoughts on “Our Workforce Development Pipeline”

  1. Dear Mr. Martin,
    I am glad to read that educated workforce is what CMDHB considers important. Unfortunately, my experience with applying for numerous roles in CMDHB is not confirming that standing, but I might be an odd case that is just unlucky to be declined in favour of applicants with lower education levels.
    I am at the end of Master of Health Management (second Master Degree) and would like to conduct research on education levels of the (non-clinical) employees of CMDHB (and other DHBs if I get permission for that). I am sure that the results of my research would confirm CMDHB’s practice in employing highly educated staff and I am sure that the research would be of value to the students investing up to hundred thousand dollars and a tremendous effort in education to be able to get a role in an organisation as respected as CMDHB.
    Would you be willing to support research of that kind in your organisation? The research will be conducted as a Master Thesis and would be backed up by some of the top New Zealand academics from the field. It will not be my first research in the field of health and I am sure that the quality of the research will be at the level publishable in the peer-reviewed journals.
    Looking forward to read your replay.
    Aleksandar Zivaljevic, MBA, MMng (in process)
    Doctoral Candidate

  2. I think its fantastic the work that is being done to grow our own workforce. I guess the problem we need to address now and in the near future is ensuring their is work for the graduates in the pipeline.

    I also wonder, what are we doing to address the workforce – community disparity right now?
    What is the management, clinical, non- clinical split that is made up of our “local workforce” in CMDHB?
    How and who is defining local workforce?
    How do we match up to 2009? Has their been any shifts ie more Maori and Pacific in generic lead roles (over and above our ethnic specific roles) ?

    1. Erehi – thanks for your questions. Our Workforce Development Manager, Jenna Clarke, has taken a look at them – here is her response:

      Those are great questions, thank you. Our workforce development team has been monitoring ethnicity data of our workforce since 2010. For the past two years our Workforce Data Analyst has produced two workforce forecast reports. The ethnic breakdown of our staff by role and service can be found in our CMDHB Workforce Report 2011. Compared to 2007, we have seen improvements to the Pasifika staff ratio (from 7% to 10%) and have remained stable for Maaori at 6%.

      We have a number of initiatives aimed at attracting more Maaori and Pacific students onto a health career pathway. The Health Could B 4 U programme and Health Science Academies operate in our local high schools. The Ko Awatea scholarships are offered to Maaori and Pacific community members to support them through their tertiary degree.

      In order to develop more Maaori, Pacific and Asian employees to advance into leadership or management roles at CMDHB, our Centre for Workforce & Leadership Capability is offering the Aspiring Leaders programme. This programme is aimed at increasing our Maaori, Pacific and Asian health leaders. We are proud members of the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Trust, which supports us in our efforts to see more diversity reflected in all levels of leadership and management across CMDHB.

      Thanks Jenna. We’re working actively to get more Maaori and Pacific people into leadership positions in the organisation so I’m thrilled to say we now have two people with Maaori affiliations and one person with Pasifika affiliations on CMDHB’s Executive Leadership Team. While they were chosen entirely on merit, it is an added benefit for us that they also bring cultural skills and insights to the table which are enhancing our decision making process.


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