The announcement that major New Zealand companies have agreed to double their on-job training hours is warmly welcomed by the Industry Training Federation (ITF).
In its report, A Future That Works, the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council (PMBAC) has rightly identified the need to offer lifelong learning to people through their workplaces, to meet skills and productivity challenges in an increasingly automated world of work.
New Zealand is ranked first in the OECD for participation rates in formal on-job training. This includes 146,000 ITO-arranged traineeships and apprenticeships, delivering 50,000 qualifications through 25,000 New Zealand employers, representing over half of all formal vocational education currently provided in New Zealand.
“Vocational education needs to be responsive to the labour market, otherwise it is not really vocational.” says ITF Chief Executive Josh Williams. “The best way to address skills shortages and increase productivity is by investing in our workers, through their workplaces. Training people in the industries they are working develops skills productively, and ensures there is a match between skills development and industry need.”
The OECD result shows that New Zealand employers have a strong culture and commitment to training. However, as the PMBAC report notes, 97 percent of New Zealand business are Small and Medium Enterprises, which can lack time, certainty, and infrastructure to engage in formal on-job training. New Zealand’s Industry Training Organisations support large and small employers to access a quality assured training infrastructure linked to nationally recognised credentials. They work with individual employers to arrange quality assured training that fits around the workplace.
“We need to ensure that when people are gaining skills on-the-job, they get respected credentials and qualifications, so they can be recognised and rewarded by future employers for what they know and can do.
“The commitment by some of New Zealand’s best known companies to double their on-job training hours is a fantastic step forward, we add our encouragement for more private and government sector employers to join the pledge” says Mr Williams.