On Thursday 19 September, Careerforce celebrated its 25th anniversary. On this day, back in 1994, it was officially afforded recognition as an Industry Training Organisation for community support services (CSSITO).

Jane Wenman, Careerforce Chief Executive commented that “a lot has happened since, but we are very proud to have supported the training and upskilling of tens of thousands of trainees and apprentices across our sectors”.

“The one thing that hasn’t changed is our fervent belief in, and absolute commitment to workplace-based training, and to improving the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders. We would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and applaud the critical role that our employers have played over the last 25 years, and to their dedication and commitment to training.”

Back in 1994, Careerforce started as an organisation of 9 staff in Christchurch, and has now grown to an organisation of 160, working with over 1000 employers nationwide, and presently supporting over 15,000 trainees and apprentices.

Careerforce was first established as Community Support Services ITO (CSSITO) in 1994, with the trading name changing to Careerforce in 2006. It took its current shape as a result of ITO consolidation between 2011 and 2016, including mergers with Social Services ITO (SSITO), Building Service Contractors ITO (BSCITO) and Health Ed Trust (HET).

Fiona Pimm, Board Chair and Board member for the past 9 years also wished to recognise and acknowledge the thousands of employers, and tens of thousands of trainees with whom Careerforce has worked with and supported.

“Many of our trainees and apprentices support some of New Zealand’s most vulnerable people, and their commitment to upskilling is essential to improving both their personal outcomes, and those they are supporting. I would also like to recognise Careerforce’s staff. With the present vocational education reforms, there is a lot of change and uncertainty, but their commitment to supporting better health and wellbeing outcomes has remained unwavering”.

Nurse Maude have worked with Careerforce since 2004, with over 1100 qualifications awarded to their staff over the last 15 years. Lucy Fife, Nurse Maude Learning & Development Manager attributes this longevity down to the partnership approach.

“Careerforce met our needs, and worked with us to develop a programme that suited our workforce,” says Fife.  “Our staff are what makes our brand, and ensures we deliver a top-notch service to our clients.”

The reform of vocation education as recently confirmed by Minister Chris Hipkins, will mean that Careerforce won’t get to celebrate another 25 years.

Wenman says they are “naturally disappointed” with what the reforms will mean for ITOs like Careerforce.

“It is an unsettling time of uncertainty for Careerforce staff, and we are very focused on supporting them in whatever way we can. We are hopeful that transition plans can be developed promptly with associated timelines, to provide as much stability as we can, and prevent the potential loss of essential standard-setting and workplace training expertise from the vocational education system.

“We are working closely with officials as reform implementation plans are developed, and remain absolutely committed to ensuring that the workforce development needs of our sectors are championed as the new vocational system takes shape.”


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