‘Fundamentally broken’ vocational education set for big revamp


Education Minister Chris Hipkins has released wide-ranging proposals he says will strengthen vocational education so that school leavers get high quality training opportunities, employers get the skills they need, and New Zealanders are better equipped for the changing nature of work.

“At a time when we’re facing critical skill shortages, too many of our polytechnics and institutes of technology are going broke,” Mr Hipkins says.

“The strong labour market is encouraging young people to move directly into the workforce rather than continue in formal education, when it needs to be smarter and accommodate both.

“And our system isn’t geared up for the future economy, where re-training and upskilling will be a regular feature of everyone’s working life.

“Instead of our institutes of technology retrenching, cutting programmes and closing campuses, we need them to expand their course delivery in more locations around the country.

“It’s time to reset the whole system and fundamentally rethink the way we view vocational education and training, and how it’s delivered.

The Coalition Government proposes to establish a unified, coordinated, national system of vocational education and training. The proposals are:

Redefined roles for education providers and Industry Training Organisations to extend the leadership role of industry and employers.

Bringing together the 16 existing Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs) as one entity, with the working title of the New Zealand Institute of Skills & Technology with a robust regional network of provision.

A unified vocational education funding system.

“We would also ensure there’s strong regional influence in the New Zealand Institute of Skills & Technology through the proposed formation of Regional Leadership Groups.

“These would identify the needs of the local economy, and become a key link between local government, employers, iwi and communities,” Mr Hipkins says.

“The development of courses and programmes would be consolidated, improving consistency and freeing up resources to expand front-line delivery.

“There will be more sharing of expertise and best-practice, and more use of online, distance, and blended learning.

“Our proposals aim to ensure that the system is easier to navigate, and provides the skills that employers and employees need.

“What we are proposing is ambitious, but it needs to be. We cannot continue to tweak the system knowing that the model is fundamentally broken, and isn’t delivering our workforce the skills that they need to thrive.

“Every New Zealander has a stake in vocational education. I encourage everyone to have their say, and I look forward to hearing your feedback,” Mr Hipkins says.

Public consultation is open until March 27, 2019.

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