Patrick Jones v2

More than 75 people have been involved with seven working groups looking at the skills and capabilities the Institute will need in order to create the new world of learning. This work will provide an essential resource for the incoming Council of the new national Institute.

In the coming weeks we’ll meet a cross-section of those involved, hearing about their reflections on the journey to date.

(Please note that these views represent the individual, and not the working group they participated in, the IST Establishment Unit, their organisation or the wider vocational education and training sector.)

Patrick Jones, Executive Director of Policy and Projects, Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT)

Working group: Learner Journey Mapping

1. What is your role and how do you participate in the vocational education and training sector?

As EITs Executive Director of Policy and Projects, I’ve been involved over many years in portfolio planning, programme design and approvals processes, and many various strategic projects. Many of these projects have related to the implementation of new policy/funding initiatives in the vocation educational space (trades academies, youth guarantee, Maori/Pasifika trades training). This experience has given me a wide range of experiences and insights into the role vocational education plays within the wider tertiary education sector, not to mention the motivations and challenges that drive communities, student and providers alike.

2. What’s a little-known fact / something you wish people knew about your organisation?

Probably like many providers in this space, that beyond the headlines that recently have portrayed our collective challenges, lies world-class programmes, facilities and passionate staff that every day make a real difference in the lives of learners and their communities. I often wish more of this was seen by the general public.

3. Tell us about someone who positively influenced own vocational learner journey and what was it that most impacted you?

It was only when I came to EIT in 2007 that I was exposed to education in this context, so I’ve been on my own learning journey ever since. First and foremost, that journey has been influenced and supported by my family. My father is a retired teacher/principal, my mother a retired nurse, my brother and two in-law’s are primary teachers (and involved in teacher education) and my wife is a primary school teacher particularly gifted in working with high needs students. Every day I see in them that wider sense of vocation and commitment to a particular career, particularly in working hard to provide equity and opportunity to those who may just need that little bit more skill, care or understanding from you so they can realise their aspirations.

4. What made you want to participate in a ‘Mobilising the New World’ working group?

I remember this being one of the first questions we all discussed on our first morning together. Most of us reflected on the experiences of those closest to us and the sense of duty we feel to do the best job possible given we were picked from so many capable people. My own personal reflection was along these lines too; that having spent the past 12 years at EIT and in the wider ITP sector it was a privilege to be asked to contribute and if anything I have learned or experienced can benefit the work we are all involved in, then it is only right to play my part.

5. What have you valued the most from being part of the Learner Journey Mapping group?

The people that make up our group. I’ve been involved in many “working groups” over many years and never seen one “click” as well as this one. We have all come from different roles, experiences and backgrounds, but the levels of respect for each other, united by a deep passion for learner success and how quickly we bonded will stick with me for many years. That and an amazing facilitation team; thanks Debbie and Vicki!

6. How have your skills and experience complemented others in the group?

I’d like to think the reasonable amount of years spent at senior leadership levels involved in operationalising policy and seeing the real impact of policy on learners and staff, both positive and challenging and how organisations can respond. Particularly, the experience of being heavily involved in the merger of EIT and Tairawhiti Polytechnic and what works well (and doesn’t) when bringing people, cultures and organisations together hopefully has added some additional insights.

7. What has excited or encouraged you about the process?

The willingness of so many parties to come along and tell us their stories, students, staff, employers. People really want to tell us their stories, and it’s both exciting and humbling.

8. What has been challenging about the process?

The time and travel commitments were something for sure, but not unexpected. Mostly for me it has been the sense of duty I’ve felt to ensure I give enough energy to this role and new organisation, and the people and tasks “back home” at EIT.

9. What has been the most interesting or surprising part of the process?

The emotional connection I quickly developed to the work and team. Listening to so many stories has only strengthened my commitment to working in this sector.

10. What are you most proud of that your group has produced so far for the incoming Council to consider?

Clearly the learner personas we have developed, and the clarity that emerged from our group about what was “at the top pf the list”, i.e. where we really need to focus if we are going to make real change for those learners who have not always succeeded as well as anyone would like.

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