The kaiāwhina workforce (non-regulated health and disability roles), consisting of more than 65,000 workers, is an essential contributor to integrated health provision and disability support in New Zealand.

In 2013 Careerforce partnered with Health Workforce New Zealand (HWNZ) to build a strengths-based transformational approach to advance the role and contribution of kaiāwhina as valued members of the health and disability services.

They agreed to develop a 20-year vision and a five-year action plan to work towards this goal.

As New Zealand’s population grows and ages, it is vital that the kaiāwhina workforce is developed, recognised and able to respond to new and changing needs of new Zealanders.

The Vision

The Kaiāwhina Workforce Action Plan (the Plan) was co-created with multiple stakeholders in the aged care, home and community, mental health and addictions, and disability, sectors across private, NGO, district health board, and government settings, to support the 20- year vison of the Plan:

A kaiāwhina workforce that adds value to the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders by being competent, adaptable and an integral part of service provision.

Progress of the Plan to date

Commencing in July 2015, the Plan is now at the midpoint of implementation and there has been considerable progress towards the 20-year vision:

Thirteen of the 56 actions across the Plan have been completed, and a further 17 actions have been substantially progressed.

Independent Facilitator for the programme, Cathy Cooney, says “the work to date has established a solid foundation for future actions to be built upon”. “The progress of the Plan,” she continues “signals greater recognition and visibility of the contribution that kaiāwhina make, the growth of the infrastructure and supporting systems underpinning the workforce, and importantly, an improving focus on person and whānau centred care and support along with increasing competence and confidence of kaiāwhina working in roles across the health and disability sectors.”

The Plan aims to ensure kaiāwhina are recognised as a valued workforce, supported and enabled on their learning journey to develop their skills and knowledge, to better support consumers of service.

Careerforce has been able to secure early wins for the Plan by leading the actions focused on achieving outcomes in education and training which built on the work completed as part of the NZQA Targeted Review of Qualifications (TRoQ) process. Since Careerforce had responsibility to deliver the TRoQ outcomes for the health and disability sectors, these outcomes were mapped to the Plan’s actions.  This led to the completed implementation of three outcomes:

  • Access domain Outcome 1: Learning and Development
  • Career Development domain Outcome 1: Career Pathways
  • Career Development domain Outcome 3: Transferable Skills

And now kaiāwhina have access to new pathways to higher learning with the launch of the New Zealand Diplomas in Business (Leadership and Management). These programmes credentialise the skilled and emerging leadership and management roles that are currently undertaken by kaiawhina. This development has made a significant contribution to the completion of the actions of the Career Development domain Outcome 2: Leadership

The TRoQ process enabled the creation of new relevant qualifications for the sector, but Careerforce also identified that the training programs needed to recognise and respect the existing competence of the kaiāwhina workforce. Employers were also looking for a more efficient training system as employee time for training was limited.

Careerforce developed the REAL approach to training and supported employers, trainers, coaches, assessors, observers and trainees to implement the program. REAL stands for Respectful, Efficient, Applied and Living. REAL puts people and outcomes first and is about the difference training makes. It respects people, especially experienced workers and enables a competent, confident and person-centred, thinking workforce as well as improving operational efficiency and productivity in the workplace.

For more information about the Kaiāwhina Workforce action plan and the work being done so far, download the FAQ and please visit the website:

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