Pay equity in the healthcare sector has just taken a big step forward thanks to a new online healthcare programme launched by Ignite Colleges.
The only course of its kind in the country, the Level 4 online qualification is specifically designed for those already working in the health sector who have been unable to advance their careers because they couldn’t afford to take time off to study.
Ignite Colleges Director of Academic Quality NImi Kaur says the new programme could make a huge difference to the lives of New Zealand’s care and support workers, who will finally have the chance to be properly remunerated.
“This programme is suitable for care and support workers currently employed in the health sector who want to upskill but for whom engaging in full-time study without an income is not an option,” says Nimi.
“Completing this course online enables them to gain a qualification and receive an increase in remuneration in line with government’s pay equity policy for the health sector. Graduates of the 30-week distance course will earn the same amount as someone who has worked in the health sector for twelve years.”
The unique NZQA-accredited programme will give students the best of both worlds, enabling them to earn while they learn.
“They can continue to earn and work in the health sector while gaining a qualification that will result in a significant pay increase that will benefit them and their families.”
Students will graduate with a New Zealand Certificate in Health and Wellbeing (Advanced Support) Level 4, enabling them to apply for a wide range of well-paid healthcare roles including District Health Board positions, and senior caregiver and support worker roles in hospices or specialised dementia units.
The new programme was developed following numerous enquiries from care and support workers who wanted to complete Ignite Colleges’ Level 4 healthcare qualification, but who couldn’t afford to quit their jobs to do so.
While Nimi admits that distance learning does bring challenges, she says the benefits far outweigh any difficulties, and Ignite Colleges has implemented a dedicated support network to ensure students succeed.
“To overcome the absence of a physical classroom, a virtual classroom consisting of a community of learners will be created where students have the opportunity to interact with each other through online forums. The programme will be delivered in smaller components and step by step guidance will be provided to make study manageable. There will also be a dedicated face to face tutor-student session every week for students to pop in to see their tutor if they’d like to. While these weekly sessions are not mandatory, students are encouraged to drop in if they feel it could be of value to them.”
As well as directly benefitting those currently working in the sector – many of whom live in South Auckland - Nimi says the new programme will have a positive impact on the wider community too.
“Qualified and well-trained staff in any sector have the very desirable effect of raising the standard within the sector. In this instance, the upskilling of the NZ health sector will lead to a better and safer patient experience for all New Zealanders.”
The first programme starts on March 12 with a small number of places still available.