New Zealand Defence Force staff taking command of their careers through Te Pūkenga study

Posted on 9 August 2023

Open Polytechnic | Te Pūkenga and the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) have joined forces to recognise prior learning from on-the-job training for military-personnel who undertake tertiary education through Open Polytechnic.

Since 2020, graduates of the New Zealand Defence Force’s Joint Warrant Officers Advanced Course (JWOAC) have been able to enrol into the Bachelor of Applied Management with 240 credits, leaving just six courses left to complete, to be awarded the degree. This pathway was created in conjunction with Open Polytechnic.

New Zealand Defence Force Warrant Officers Aaron Jeffries and Kerry Williams say they are grateful for the opportunity to complete the Bachelor of Applied Management through Open Polytechnic.

From L-R: NZDF Warrant Officers Aaron Jeffries and Kerry Williams

According to Aaron, studying online through Open Polytechnic provided him with the flexibility he required to be able to successfully finish his degree.

“The online delivery style and assessment criteria suited my work, life and study balance,” Aaron says.

“Online allows for a paperless experience and everything I needed to be successful was incorporated within the electronic syllabus.”

Kerry, who took the programme to get a formal qualification to recognise 35 years working at the New Zealand Defence Force, found the degree programme practical.

“Open Polytechnic was great because I could base a lot of answers on my own personal knowledge, skills and experience,” Kerry says.

“Learning online allowed me to control the pace around full-time work commitments.”

“The study materials were easy to follow and informative.”

For Aaron and Kerry, the programme was beneficial for their careers now, and any future aspirations.

“I have certainly used aspects of strategy management (theories) and change management (processes) in my day-to-day role,” Aaron says.

“This programme of study captured what I already knew or had been practicing for many years,” Kerry says.

“There was some very good material covered within the programme that I will apply in the future, if the opportunity arises.”

Juggling work with study and family commitments was sometimes difficult for both learners, but they managed to get through it thanks to the Open Polytechnic degree programme format and helpful kaimahi (staff).

“It was challenging finding the right balance at times, however the online delivery style and the flexibility allowed by the tutors made the experience manageable,” Aaron says.

“The biggest challenge was making time to study,” Kerry says.

“Once committed with an end goal in sight, it made studying an achievable goal.”

Both aviators would recommend the Bachelor of Applied Management, and not just to those in the New Zealand Defence Force.

Aaron, who is a “huge advocate for professional development” found the programme useful in the New Zealand Defence environment and thinks that the skills he learned in the degree would also be relevant to other industries.

For Kerry, it rounds out much of what he already knows from his career to date.

“The time commitment is manageable, and you are surprised how easy it is to pick up and deliver the content in assignments,” Kerry says.

“It’s a good feeling to be supported by my organisation in developing an advanced learning pathway that I could utilise to acknowledge my previous skills and experience.”

NZDF’s Warrant Officer of the Defence Force (WODF), Mark Mortiboy is a strong advocate for JWOAC graduates to take up studying the Bachelor of Applied Management.

“The programme provides military leaders the opportunity to complement years of practical experience with understanding sound management practices. It provides a mechanism to broaden one’s knowledge and apply it on the job.”

“It’s great to play such an important role in helping the New Zealand Defence Force upskill their staff,” says Alan Cadwallader, Executive Director at Open Polytechnic | Te Pūkenga.

“By working directly with the Defence Force, we have been able to provide them with a pathway to complete the Bachelor of Applied Management programme, and we look forward to continuing to work with them in the future.”

The Bachelor of Applied Management programme is part of an agreement signed last year between Te Pūkenga and NZDF to provide more than 4500 ākonga (learners) annually with world-class training and qualifications.

The agreement draws together the training and education previously provided by a number of Transitional Industry Training Organisations (TITOs) and Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs) into one new arrangement with Te Pūkenga.

This demonstrates how the country's largest tertiary education and training provider can be the long-term skills training partner for organisations with regional and national reach, says Andrew McSweeney, Pourangi Ākonga me te Ahumahi | DCE Learner and Employer Experience and Attraction for Te Pūkenga.

“We are working collaboratively to simplify how New Zealand’s armed forces engage with vocational and applied learning.”