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Reference group minutes, 29 July 2020

Date: Wednesday 29 July 2020, 1pm - 3pm

Place: via Zoom


Licensed Immigration Advisers: Amanda Gaskin (Ernst & Young, Wellington – NZAIP member); Steven Dunning (Greenstone Global, Hamilton); Steve Baker (Enterprise Recruitment, Christchurch); Hemant Kaushal (Contact New Zealand Immigration Consultants, Auckland) and Vanita Hurbuns (A2 NZ Immigration Limited, Auckland)

IAA - Simon van Weeghel (Acting Registrar of Immigration Advisers), Luanshya Bakes (Senior Technical Advisor), Anastasia Sherry (Senior Technical Advisor) and Polina Finney (Technical Advisor).

Guests - Appley Boyd (Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology)

Apologies - Caren Donald (KPMG, Auckland) and June Ranson (Woburn International Limited, Wellington – NZAMI Chairperson)

Introductions / Registrar comments

  • Simon opened the meeting and the group did a round of introductions.
  • There has been an influx of initial provisional licence applications which offset against advisers letting their licences lapse.
  • The number of inquiries from Australian Migration Agents have decreased. It is not clear whether it is due to the impact of COVID-19.
  • The number of complaints have been trending down compared with the number of adviser increasing over the couple of years.
  • The timeliness of Tribunal Decisions issued has been improved.
  • Currently, the Authority refers 30% of complaints to the Tribunal. The Investigations Team are currently looking into improving the complaints investigation process. The Authority will be enforcing deadlines to receive client files as delays in receiving the files disrupt the investigation process.

Group Discussion

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) activities and requirements

The purpose of this session was to discuss the current CPD requirements and feedback on what is going well and areas for improvement.

General comments

  • Participants recognised CPD as an integral part of being a licensed immigration adviser. Networking opportunities gained in undertaking certain CPD activities were also recognised. Some also valued face-to-face contact.
  • CPD activities offered by the Authority are quite basic, and some participants felt the need for more specialised CPD activities being available. Reference was made to other schemes offering more intensive CPD activities. The Technical Team discussed the possibility of inviting guest speakers to participate.
  • The role of the Authority as a regulator (ensuring code compliance and professional standards of practice) must be taken into consideration when facilitating CPD activities for advisers.  Some areas, for example, how to make your business more profitable, would be more appropriate for an external provider. Advisers also have the opportunity to facilitate CPD activities themselves ie cell study group meet ups. 
  • Participants considered quality of CPD activities were paramount to ensure CPD activities undertaken don’t simply become a ‘tick-the-box’ exercise. 
  • The Authority takes a very broad view on CPD activities so long as you can link it to the Competency Standards and active learning is involved. CPD activities undertaken do not necessarily have to be focused on the technical aspects ie INZ policy/instructions, but can also include areas relating to wellbeing, developing on soft skills, and business courses for example. It’s a learner-centred approach.  

Specific questions

Do you think the IAA’s CPD requirements are adequate?

  • Responses varied between participants. Some participants wanted a more formalised structure ie having in place accredited CPD providers whilst others appreciated the current ‘broader’ structure of the CPD requirements. Concerns were raised about the potential ‘monetarisation’ of CPD activities if it were to be more formalised.
  • Some participants raised concerns about some advisers potentially falsifying CPD records as the Authority cannot inspect every advisers’ CPD plan and records. The Technical Team advised of the possibility of a system requiring advisers upload their CPD records in order to proceed with their renewal application.

Are the CPD requirements clear?

  • Some felt that formulating a professional development plan (PDP) was a difficult process as they did not understand exactly what their learning needs were at the time or after some time, their activities did not ‘match up’ with their plans.
  • A suggestion was made to include an example of a CPD plan and record online.
  • The technical team highlighted varying degrees of detail in PDP/CPD plans.
  • The CPD requirements are taught at the Toi Ohomai Institute and a fair amount of information is given.
  • The participants were not able to comment on how they understood PDP vs a CPD plan.  
  • The Technical Team clarified its view on the watching or recording of seminars as an acceptable CPD activity. Advisers can only claim CPD hours relating to recordings or videos if the recordings or videos itself contained ‘Questions and Answers’.

Do you think that there should be different CPD requirements for full vs provisional licence holders?

  • Responses varied between participants.
  • Some participants considered provisional licence holders should do more hours than full licence holders; others felt that the current 20 hours were adequate.
  • Some participants felt that if provisional licence holders were required to do more CPD hours then there should be more webinars targeted towards provisional licence holders.
  • Some participants highlighted that provisional licence holders may exceed the 20 hour requirements taking into consideration supervision meetings with supervisors and undertaking the qualification.
  • Some participants suggested that provisional licence holders take a mandatory business course.

Do you find the IAA online CPD plan and record user-friendly?

  • A general consensus was that the online CPD plan and record was user-friendly. The Technical Team identified that the online CPD plan and record data entry fields were separated. The CPD activities undertaken should ‘match up’ with the CPD plans.   

At the moment the attendance of one IAA webinar is mandatory, however this mandatory activity can be changed. If it was to be changed – what should such a change look like and why?

  • Some participants felt that there should be set hours of technical learning.
  • Some were satisfied with an one hour mandatory webinar.
  • Some felt that all advisers should be required to undertake some form of CPD relating to Code and Ethics every year, possibly in the form of an online module.

How do you find the current format of IAA webinars? Would it work better if we were to upload a pre-recorded video and thereafter hold a live Q&A session for advisers who have questions related to the topic under discussion?

  • Some participants liked having a variety of webinars as everyone has different styles of learning.
  • Some felt online modules were beneficial, particularly for those who are ‘distant learners’.
  • If the Authority could ask for questions in advance of a webinar but also leave room in the webinar for questions and answers.

Key feedback from discussion

  • More feedback from the Authority and INZ relating to their observations on what has/has not been going well.  
  • Make available a sample CPD plan and record.
  • Make available information on cell group meetings occurring across the country and the list of associations representing advisers.

Closure and next meeting

Next meeting to take place in 4-6 weeks. Exact date will be in announced in advance.

Simon and Technical Team thanked everyone for their contributions.

The meeting ended just after 3pm.