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Government announces new vision for vocational education

Government announces new vision for vocational education

Last updated 1 August 2019
Last updated 1 August 2019

The Minister has today announced the decision to proceed with the proposals on the Reform of Vocational Education following consultation with education providers, employers, industry, learners, iwi and whānau, and communities around the country.

The Government will now take its first steps to create a strong, unified, sustainable system for all vocational education that is fit for the future of work and delivers the skills that learners, employers and communities need to thrive.

“A unified, strong and sustainable system for vocational education and training will help improve the skills of all New Zealanders no matter where they are in their education or career and will support a growing economy that works for everyone,” Minister Hipkins says.

“The changes we are making will give industry greater control over all aspects of vocational education and training to make the system responsive to employers’ needs and to the changing world of work. Industry and employers will identify skills needs, set standards and approve qualifications and credentials, and influence funding decisions.

“The changes will also ensure we do better for learners who haven’t been well-served by the present system. “We need to make sure that trades and vocational education are recognised and valued. There are great, well-paid jobs available for people with the right skills. We just aren’t meeting the skills needs at the moment.  

“The goal is that everyone in the workforce and in our families and whānau who is able to earn, can, and that people can continue working by ensuring they always have relevant, up-to-date skills that employers need. We want to see more workplace learning, more apprentices and more opportunities for people to earn while they learn.” Minister Hipkins says.

The seven key changes

The Reform of Vocational Education includes seven key changes that will create a unified vocational education system:

  1. Create Workforce Development Councils: Around four to seven industry-governed bodies, to give industry greater leadership across vocational education.
  2. Establish Regional Skills Leadership Groups: These would provide advice about the skills needs of their regions to the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC), workforce development councils, and local vocational education providers.
  3. Establish Taumata Aronui: A group to help ensure that the Reform of Vocational Education reflects the Government’s commitment to Māori Crown partnerships.
  4. Create a New Zealand Institute of Skills & Technology: A unified, sustainable, public network of regionally accessible vocational education, bringing together the existing 16 ITPs.
  5. Shift the role of supporting workplace learning from ITOs to providers: The new Institute and other providers would support workplace-based, on-the-job training as well as delivering education and training in provider-based, off-the-job settings, to achieve seamless integration between the settings and to be well connected with the needs of industry.
  6. Establish Centres of Vocational Excellence: CoVEs will bring together the Institute, other providers, workforce development councils, industry experts, and leading researchers to grow excellent vocational education provision and share high-quality curriculum and programme design across the system.
  7. Unify the vocational education funding system: A unified funding system will apply to all provider-based and work-integrated education at certificate and diploma qualification levels 3 to 7 (excluding degree study) and all industry training.

Together, these changes aim to create a vocational education system that is ready for a fast-changing future of skills, learning and work. This unified system will:

  • Deliver to the unique needs of all learners, including those who have been traditionally under-served, such as Māori, Pacific peoples, and disabled learners, particularly as Māori and Pacific peoples will form a growing part of the working-age population in the future
  • Be relevant to the changing needs of employers
  • Be collaborative, innovative and sustainable for all regions of New Zealand
  • Uphold and enhance Māori Crown partnerships

What do these changes mean for you?

  • Staff of industry training organisations or institutes of technology or polytechnics – in the short term things will continue as normal. The transition to the new system will be phased and you will be supported throughout the process. During the transition period we will ensure that you are provided the information you need to be able to support your organisation and to continue educational delivery.
  • Future and current students, apprentices and trainees - if you are already studying or want to study or do apprenticeships, keep enrolling, studying and working towards your goals. You will see minimal change over the next couple of years and your studies will not be impacted. You will still be able to complete your qualifications and credentials through your chosen provider. The support services that are currently available to you will remain unchanged.
  • Employers - keep hiring apprentices, encouraging your people to enrol and working with your industry training organisations for your training needs. On-the-job training isn’t stopping and won’t be replaced by off-the-job training. Apprenticeships and on-the-job training will continue to be a priority and are essential to the New Zealand economy and helping us tackle current skills shortages.

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For the latest updates, including next steps for the reform, visit Reform of Vocational Education on Kōrero Mātauranga