“With today’s vocational education reform announcements, the Government is proposing to dismantle our industry-led training and apprenticeship system, says Josh Williams, chief executive of the Industry Training Federation (ITF).
The reform proposes to shift responsibility for arranging workplace training and apprenticeships from industry-owned and governed Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) to a single government-owned Institute of Skills and Technology.
“We intend to ask our employers and industries if they would prefer that their training organisation is taken over by a single government-owned institute,” says Williams.
“We currently have 145,000 people per year in workplace training and apprenticeships training in 25,000 firms supported by the 11 ITOs – the largest form of post-school education.
“We do this with just six per cent of Government funding for tertiary education.”
For every $1 million invested in the tertiary sector, ITO-arranged training qualifies 300 skilled workers, he says.
By comparison the polytechnics currently qualify 50.
“To meet our future workforce challenges, we need to be investing much more heavily in work-based learning. Industry itself is best placed to the determine the training arrangements to meet its needs, including commissioning vocational providers to deliver relevant courses and programmes.
“The big opportunity of this reform is to build on the success of our work-based system because that is how we can address skills shortages, and get the right skills in the right place at the right time.
“We are looking for a system that supports and encourages thousands more employers, regionally and nationally to develop our workforce.”
New Zealand’s industry-led training and apprenticeship model provides direct engagement and connection to real employers.
“We are not at all convinced that central management of workplace training and apprenticeships will incentivise more employers to engage and participate,” says Williams.
“The ITF has consistently argued for a more joined up vocational education system that works together to meet the current and emerging needs of industry and New Zealand. We support the key role that polytechnics play in the sector and fully agree that funding policies have long-needed a review to get the right incentives and behaviours in the system.
“The ITF is looking to these reforms to strengthen our industry-led workplace training system, not to dismantle it. The ITO model is owned and governed by industry itself. By delivering skills to working people through employers and providers it ensures that skills training is relevant for the learner, their employer, and their industry.
“We intend to bring together our employer and industry associations, business leaders, and key stakeholders to consider the detail of these proposals.”