The building and construction sector has this week rejected the Government’s proposal to reform vocational education.
The Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO) held a sector summit in Auckland today to discuss the proposal in detail, and to understand its impact on the current and future training system. Attendees included a broad mix of industry leaders and employers who work with the ITOs and polytechs.
Two-thirds of attendees did not support the Government’s proposals, voicing their concerns around the negative impact such widespread changes would have on the sector, at a time when we need to build more capacity and capability.
“The purpose of the summit was to agree the non-negotiables any new system must provide to ensure employers and apprentices stay engaged. What we have gained today is an agreed list of what industry expect to be incorporated in any future system,” said Warwick Quinn, BCITO CEO.
“Today (Tuesday, March 5) attendees made it clear that they value sector control of both the standard setting and delivery of training. While they appreciate the greater control of the standard setting under the proposals they are concerned that control of the delivery is at risk.
“They value the relationships they have with their ITOs. Under the current system, our field staff build strong relationships with every individual employer and apprentice. This allows us to customise their learning. In construction, most people learn from mentoring and support. They don’t learn from books. This focus needs to be retained in any reforms, and the sector is sceptical how this will work in the new system.
“There was concern from many in the room that the smaller trades will fall through the cracks of a single, large institution. They are also concerned that advocacy work carried out by ITOs will be lost. As a result, we will struggle to attract people into the sector.
The industry also strongly voiced its concerns about how the transition to a new system would be managed.
“We understand what the new proposals are trying to do, but we are concerned that they may not get there. It is a lot of disruption on a promise that lacks detail.
“If we get this wrong, we risk losing a cohort of employers, and by default apprentices, which would set the sector back years. We cannot let this happen at a time when the sector faces significant skills shortages.
“The overarching question we will be asking Ministers is how they can mitigate the risks identified by industry today in any sector reform,” Quinn says. “This is too important to get wrong.”
Following yesterday’s discussions BCITO will continue to consult the sector to ensure a robust response to the Government proposals.
- BCITO is the largest provider of construction trade apprenticeships in New Zealand. It is appointed by the Government to develop and implement industry qualifications for the building and construction sector. BCITO provide a range of apprenticeships across 15 trades within the building and construction industry.