UpTempo: A new approach to community education

Pasifika people in Aotearoa often enter the workforce in entry level roles, but the lack of support for career progression means they can stay there for too long. This lack of development opportunities is a key driver in the Pacific pay gap. Research in 2020 showed the gap in average hourly wages is vast – for every dollar NZ European men earn on average, Pasifika men earn $0.76, and Pasifika women earn just $0.73.

One very promising solution to this problem is UpTempo – a learning programme that demonstrates what real community education can look like. The key to UpTempo’s success is a real commitment to meaningful co-design. Led by The Southern Initiative (a social innovation unit at Auckland Council), and funded by MBIE and the Peter McKensie Project, UpTempo works closely with communities in West and South Auckland to take a ‘whole of family’ approach to workforce progression for Pasifika people.

E tū members in the security industry have been participating in the UpTempo programme and are seeing fantastic results. Members are being helped to achieve their NZQA Level 3 security certificate, which comes with a pay rise and a chance to further progress their careers in the industry. It also opens up a real path to management and other leadership roles.

UpTempo takes skills training a step further – participants are also learning how to help their colleagues to take the same opportunities. That’s a guiding principle to the programme, acknowledging that helping one person at a time is an uphill battle. To win real systemic change, we need to empower whole communities to build better futures for themselves. Of course, this is what real organising is all about, at work and beyond.

For more info about UpTempo, get in touch with E tū Organiser Etevise Ioane: etevise.ioane@etu.nz