Education Minister Chris Hipkins today released wide-ranging proposals for strengthening 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.
“The world around us is changing rapidly and our education system needs to keep up,” Chris Hipkins said.
“At a time when we’re facing critical skill shortages, too many of our polytechnics and institutes of technology are going broke.
“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 up-skilling 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 bodies (Industry Training Organisations (ITOs)) to extend the leadership role of industry and employers;
- Bringing together the 16 existing ITPs as one entity with the working title of the New Zealand Institute of Skills & Technology with a robust regional network of provision; and
- 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 which would identify the needs of the local economy and become a key link between local government, employers, iwi and communities.
“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.
“The Government envisages that the New Zealand Institute of Skills & Technology, and perhaps also wananga, host Centres of Vocational Excellence (CoVEs). These power houses of expertise could cover key sectors and industries, which could be broad (eg, agriculture) or specific (eg, viticulture).
“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.
“The proposals released today may go ahead in this or another form, but the Government won’t make any decisions until we have heard and carefully considered feedback from this consultation process,” Chris Hipkins said.
Public consultation is open until 27 March.