Universities, wananga and the tertiary sector

Staff talent

VSA offers New Zealanders the opportunity to expand their horizons through volunteering – living and working with partners in the Pacific and beyond for the experience of a lifetime – transforming their lives as well as those they work with. VSA enriches New Zealand society through the cross-cultural exchanges it creates and the new knowledge that returns with its volunteers. We offer both long (6 months and over) and short-term assignments and currently work in Melanesia, Polynesia and Timor-Leste.

SDG 4 aims to “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”

Access to education in the Pacific, particularly in rural and remote areas, remains an issue for many people. Children, especially girls, have few opportunities for education. VSA volunteers support teachers and governments to deliver education to their communities. VSA’s strategy is to develop volunteer assignments that build the capacity of the education system, and improve teaching and learning practices through teacher training and development, build the capacity of government education systems and institutions and promote opportunities for new models of learning for young people.

We work with our partners overseas to make sure that all our assignments are locally identified, locally relevant, and locally delivered. Our goal is to transfer skills and knowledge so that the changes achieved during an assignment remain sustainable after a volunteer returns to New Zealand. Our capability building model, with a focus on training the trainers means that your teaching expertise, combined with your technical knowledge, would make you a great volunteer. Volunteers get the rare chance to live and work among local communities in the Pacific and deepening their cross cultural teaching skills. We work with tertiary, vocational training, secondary, primary and early childhood institutions, as well as developing curriculum and education policy.

We often have roles for people who have experience in training trainers, teaching, teaching English as a second language, educational resource development, mentoring, coaching and on-the-job training, transfer of knowledge and skills, training in effective teaching and learning practices, evaluating training needs and delivering workshops, and experience mentoring staff in an academic leadership role, such as PhD supervision.

We have partnership agreements with many tertiary institutions that support staff volunteering. 

Contact: partnerships@vsa.org.nz and/or contact Mary Curnow, Director - Fundraising, Alumni & Business Development on +64 4 495 8522.

Benefits of staff volunteer programmes

  • Leverage the strengths of both our organisations. VSA has decades of experience in sending volunteers and working in the Pacific. We have great systems for looking after our volunteers and making sure they have a fulfilling and safe experience.
  • Develop the talent of your staff with innovative leadership challenges and professional development opportunities, with real world, lived experience in Pacific communities
  • Gain valuable experience living and working with Pacific communities.
  • Build reputation, brand, and networks
  • Support academic colleagues in other universities and contribute to higher educational outcomes
  • Gain experience working with scarce resources, and develop innovative in-field solutions
  • Identify future research opportunities and contacts
  • Fast track development of talented future leaders. Staff of all ages are increasingly purpose driven and want a workplace that supports meaningful work. From Millennials to Baby Boomers, people expect career flexibility and development opportunities. A volunteer assignment can help you to recruit and retain top talent.
  • Millennials are moving into management roles, which is a great time to offer them a stretch assignment, a chance to test their skills in a new environment, and an international experience. This aligns with millennials expectations that their employer will make a contribution to society, promote diversity and inclusion and offer development and pay benefits to earn their loyalty.

Student opportunities – real life experiences

The UniVol Programme is a collaboration between VSA and Otago University, Victoria University, Auckland University and Massey University. The programme provides a personal and professional development opportunity for selected candidates as well as contributing to existing VSA development programmes and improving development education in New Zealand. Students who take part must have taken some development or development-related papers at 300 level.

The first group of Univols headed off to South Africa, Tanzania and Vanuatu in 2007. Since then, over 100 students have taken part in the programme. The programme is the brainchild of Professor Tony Binns, Ron Lister Chair of Geography at Otago University, who had earlier been involved in Volunteer Service Overseas’ (VSO) intern programme in the UK.

Sam McLauchlan completed his PhD on the Univol Programme. His research reveals the careers that UniVols take up on return. Across all respondents, 33% carried on with more study, 19% worked for NGOs and 18% took up roles in government or local authorities. 29% moved on to areas such as teaching and science, or part-time jobs and further travel. One of our volunteers, Finn Egan, walked the length of New Zealand to raise funds for a women’s refuge in Kokopo, Papua New Guinea, before returning to do his Masters.

Find out more about Univols by reading this story about ten years of Univol and the impact on volunteers lives, students talking about what inspired them to volunteer, and Sam MacLauchlan’s PhD on Univol. The Univol home page is here.

Read more

World Economic Forum – What are the 21st century skills every student needs?

Contact: partnerships@vsa.org.nz and/or contact Mary Curnow, Director - Fundraising, Alumni & Business Development on +64 4 495 8522.