How-to Guide: Auckland District Health Board case study

This informative how-to guide is to help others learn how to adopt Auckland District Health Board's innovative approach to addressing critical skills shortages in health specialised construction.

Auckland District Health Board (ADHB) recognised the emerging risk of the increased health infrastructure spending and shortage of health specialised project managers. It collaborated with Northern Regional Alliance and the University of Auckland to create two interconnected programmes to address the shortage of health specialised project managers.

Who this guide is for?

Clients and other key players in different infrastructure subsectors across the country that can use this approach as a blueprint to address any critical skills shortages putting their future infrastructure pipeline at risk.

1) Find the burning platform

There is an on-going skills shortage in Aotearoa's construction sector, which has been exacerbated recently by COVID-19. Clients must acknowledge this issue when planning their infrastructure spending and identify the critical capability gaps that they need to address to ensure the success of future projects. It’s important to focus on specific skills shortages that are critical for your project or programme's success.

2) Get the pitch right

During the business case stage, ADHB found it challenging to generate support and change perspectives in the construction industry. It was particularly difficult to access health funding, as it traditionally goes to projects with more direct health outcomes. It's important to spend time getting the messaging right by articulating the vision, quantifying the benefits, and outlining the risks of doing nothing. The messaging needs to include a concise problem statement and detailed financial modelling so people can get on board and prioritise the issue.

3) Find the right people with passion

Use your pitch deck to consistently share your message and get buy-in from all levels in the right organisations. It might take 10 meetings before you find the right person to support your initiative, but it is worth it when you find people who are passionate about the issue and open to change. It's important to remain open to feedback and build off the ideas of various groups in the sector, as this will help you refine solutions and select initiatives that will be sustainable and successful in the long-term. You'll then attract advocates who will help enable the success of the initiative.

4) Remain positive and persistent

A large part of the journey will be rewriting old paradigms. There is a popular view that the market will provide the resources required and client-led initiatives are costly and unnecessary. At times the industry might view change with scepticism and caution, so you must recognise that change or innovation can be tough to implement, and persistence is key.

5) Start with a pilot

After refining the business case options with people across the industry, pitch a pilot to get things started. The ADHB initially requested funding for seven years but it was too challenging to secure long-term funding for an untested innovation. The successes from the pilot will build the case to scale the project in the future for ADHB and other clients across the construction industry.

6) Stay agile

Innovation will experience roadblocks and unexpected opportunities, so it's important to keep monitoring your progress, be open to failure and keep on the lookout for opportunities. For example, since the launch of the master's and training programmes, there's been less interest from students than expected, so the ADHB and university adjusted their marketing approach and expect to see better results in the second semester. On the other hand, the calibre of students for the training programme was surprising and exceeded expectations, so the salary bands for the CEHI were increased to recruit the candidates.

Last updated: 31 March 2022