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