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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details


Have We Got a course for You!: Meeting the Learning Needs of Industry in a Contestable Global Environment

Colleen Brown, Diane Christensen.

'He aha te mea nui
O tenei ao
Maku e ki atu
He tangata
He tangata
He tangata'
Translation - 'You ask me what is important. I will tell you. It is people, it is people, it is people.'
New Zealand is a small, isolated country with a population of 3.8 million. In order to compete on a world market it has to invest in its people. Recent education reforms have been extended to the tertiary sector where private providers are able to compete in a contestable market for government funding for students. Industry Training Organisations (ITO's) are able to determine the type of training required for the levels of certification in their discipline. Many ITO's require their trainees to have communication as part of their non-industry specific training. Manukau Institute of Technology sited in the industrial heart of New Zealand is perfectly positioned to have a significant influence on the training provisions offered to the range of industries in our catchment area. A small section in the School of Communication ( Communication Enterprise) has 2.5 staff exclusively devoted to meeting the needs of external students. The industry students are typically full time employees in companies ranging from within the top ten organisations in New Zealand to those in small companies. The role of the Enterprise Unit is to advise the Training Organisations, and industries on what their training needs may be, create the material for employees and deliver it. Not all training is focussed on certification. A company may require a range of communication seminars for their employees. Many choose our institute, which as a vocational institute has a strong commitment to linking theory and practice. This paper discusses the setting up of the Communication Enterprise section, the support it receives from within the institute and the challenges encountered in training in the 'real' world. It uses case studies of industries the Enterprise Unit has worked with to highlight the advantages of investing in people and develops the theme of how a vocational tertiary institute can add value to an organisation through being an active partner in its development. It also discusses how the Enterprise Unit has had to change its own teaching practices in order to remain competitive with private training organisations.


Colleen Brown  (New Zealand)
Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader Communication Enterprise
Communication Enterprise in the School of Communication Studies
Manukau Institute of Technology

As programme Leader of the Communication Enterprise section, I liaise with a number of other academic and marketing sections within the Institute. All our work is done with external clients both in the secondary school sector and the industrial and manufacturing sectors. I train people in many of the major companies in the region- Air NewZealand, New Zealand Steel, Montana Wines, the Navy, and Industry Training Organisations. My specialist ares are in negotiation skills, report writing, conflict management,advocacy and the different working styles presented in the workplace.I have presented papers nationally and internationally.

Diane Christensen  (New Zealand)
Senior Lecturer Communication Enterprise
Communication Enterprise in the School of Communication Studies
Manukau Institute of Technology

Diane Christensen, a former secondary teacher, is now senior lecturer and has been working with schools and industry since securing tenure at Manukau 7 years ago. The NZ Polytechinic sector recognized the innovative work of Diane and colleague, Colleen Brown, with the NZPPC Innovation Award in 1997 and both lecturers were awarded a Distinguished Teachers Award by the Institute in 2002.

At present Diane works with some of the key industries in the Auckland area ranging from NZ Steel, Air New Zealand, and NZ Navy, over 2,500 secondary students, 50 schools and 70 teachers .

  • Training
  • Industry Training Organisations
  • Industry
  • Change
  • Tertiary sector
  • Vocational institute
  • New Zealand

(30 min Conference Paper, English)