With the closure of the six week vocational education sector consultation period, a key industry leader has called the process inadequate with dire consequences for the economy.
The Government’s proposed changes include the replacement of regional polytechnics with a new, national tertiary training organisation – the NZ Institute of Skills and Technology.
The responsibility for the arrangement of training and work-based learning, such as trade apprenticeships, would no longer be delivered by industry owned Industry Training Organisations.
Garry Fissenden CEO of The Skills Organisation, New Zealand’s largest Industry Training Organisation (ITO) which represents 22 industries, 4,400 employers and over 10,000 apprentices, is critical not just of the proposed changes but the length of the consultation process offered to employers and the trade education sector.
“The Government is currently spending longer consulting on raising the proportion of egg in imported mayonnaise and reviewing the current import standards for Asian zoo elephants coming in from Australia and Sri Lanka than on its total overhaul to the vocational education system!
“We are concerned that so little time has been dedicated to better understanding industry needs and reservations about the proposed changes – which would have a dramatic effect on the career prospects of the next generation of young New Zealanders as well as having an immediate impact on business.
“Despite seeing the results of research from more than 900 employers which found the majority say they will hire fewer apprentices if the proposal to move the managing of apprentices away from ITOs is implemented, the Government remains resolute in its desire to fast track this reform through,” he says.
According to latest statistics, apprenticeships are a key employment pathway for Maori – who make up around 17% of all industry apprentices/trainees. In contrast, Maori make up just under 15% of the general population which suggests they will be disproportionately more affected by the proposed changes.
“New Zealand businesses need greater access to more affordable training, an increase in the number of trade apprenticeships and better incentives for businesses to take on trainees,” says Fissenden.