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Decisions on reforming vocational education

The Minister of Education, Chris Hipkins, announced the Government’s decisions on the Reform of Vocational Education proposals on 1 August.

A transcript of the video announcment is availble in te reo Māori:

Reform of Vocational Education Decisions Transcript - te reo Māori [Word 40KB]

The reforms aim to create a strong, unified, sustainable system for all vocational education that delivers the skills that learners, employers and communities need to thrive.

The new system will have a stronger focus on employers, delivering the skills they need, providing more support for their employees, and ensuring greater consistency in vocational education across the country. Longer term, this will increase the number of employers who are engaged in vocational education.

Learners will receive more support while they are training, and vocational education that is more relevant to work. They will be able to move more easily between regions and between work-based and provider-based training, and will be able to continue training more easily if their employment situation changes.

Work-integrated learning will become an increasingly important part of the vocational education system, giving people the opportunity and flexibility to earn while they learn and gain an education that is more directly relevant to the changing needs of the workplace.
A unified vocational education system will bring together industry and educators to make sure New Zealand’s workforce is fit for today’s needs and tomorrow’s expectations.

Seven key changes

The scope of 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 Te 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

Documents explaining decisions

A unified system for all vocational education [PDF 1MB]

Summary of change decisions [PDF 610KB]

Summary of Public Consultation and Engagement [PDF 1.56MB]

What happens now?

We will work closely with stakeholders as we design and implement the reforms.

A transformation of this size will take a number of years to complete, and will be managed carefully.

If you’d like to keep up to date on the Reform of Vocational Education, you can subscribe to the Tertiary Education Commission email newsletters on their website:

Government announces new vision for vocational education - TEC website

I am a student, apprentice, trainee or am thinking about doing workplace training or heading to a polytechnic – what does this mean for me?

If you are already studying or want to study or do apprenticeships, keep enrolling, studying and working towards your goals.
You should see minimal change over 2019 and 2020 and your studies should not be impacted by these changes. You will still be able to complete your qualifications and credentials through your chosen provider. If you wish to enrol in another programme of study, you still can, including in multi-year programmes.

The support services that are currently available to you should remain unchanged.

If you are an international learner, continue to enrol. The New Zealand Government will continue to support international learners throughout any future changes. Approved visas and study arrangements will continue, and the courses, qualifications and credentials learners are enrolled in will continue to be recognised. You will be able to complete any study or training you start with an existing polytechnic or through an industry training organisation.

As the new system rolls out, students, apprentices and trainees will have more access to high-quality workplace learning and employer networks in addition to off-the-job study. You will be able to move between on-the-job and off-the-job study more easily, and transfer to another region in New Zealand without affecting the qualification or credential you’re training toward.

One goal of the new system is to provide a better result for learners who have often been under-served by vocational education – specifically Maori, Pacific peoples and disabled learners and those with additional learning needs.

Maori

The reforms are an opportunity to set up a new system that prioritises Maori success and works with Māori to shift to more culturally responsive teaching and learning, where learners know they are valued. It is also a chance to make sure there is a much stronger voice for Māori businesses and iwi development.

Pacific

The more integrated vocational education system may help Pacific learners, families and communities to study using flexible modes of delivery, as they have told us that they prefer to work and earn money to support their family rather than studying full-time.

More education-to-employment arrangements will be available that recognise the vital role communities play in supporting Pacific learner success and provide opportunities to tailor support to learners by those with skills, knowledge and understanding of Pacific values and cultures.

Disabled learners and those with additional learning needs 

The changes will make vocational education more accessible for people with disabilities and those who need additional learning support. Stronger connections between providers and schools, and between providers and employers will help disabled learners and learners with additional learning support needs transition into vocational education and employment.

I work for an institute of technology or a polytechnic – what does this mean for me?

One of the strengths of the current vocational education and training system is the quality and dedication of the staff of institutes of technology and polytechnics. Vocational education and training needs to continue to support students to gain the qualifications and training they need to succeed in their chosen careers.

When the Institute comes into being on 1 April 2020, your existing employment agreements will transfer over to a subsidiary operation of the Institute. This subsidiary will, largely, reflect the current structure of your organisation. No other immediate changes to your employment terms and conditions will occur on this date.

The reforms will ensure that vocational training has the right roles and capabilities to help people get the skills they need to get into work faster. There will be significant new roles available to make sure this happens throughout the regions.

The transition to the new system will be phased and you will be supported throughout the process. We will keep you up to date with developments on the reform process and what it will mean for you.

I work for an industry training organisation (ITO) – what does this mean for me?

As with institutes of technology and polytechnics, one of the strengths of the current vocational education and training system is the quality and dedication of the staff of industry training organisations.

We acknowledge that change is stressful and that the vocational education reforms will impact on many people working within the sector. The new system of vocational education will be introduced in a managed way.

Under the changes, ITOs’ current role of supporting workplace learning and assessment for on-the-job vocational education will be transferred to vocational education providers.

Providers will become responsible for arranging and supporting all vocational education and training, whether it takes place off-the-job or on-the-job. Workforce development councils will become responsible for moderating assessments.

Transfer of on-the-job training to providers will be carefully managed and will occur progressively from 2020 as confidence is gained that sufficient capability is in place in providers to ensure successful transfer of on-the-job training. The use of mechanisms such as creating holding organisations from existing ITOs will be considered to continue current on-the-job training arrangements, with the goal of moving all training to providers by 2022.

This would give employers who are satisfied with their current support the assurance that the transition will be carefully managed over a three-year period to minimise any disruption to services. It would also provide a more structured transition, easing pressure on both ITOs and the new Institute, and would reassure the Government that providers are migrating towards the sort of organisation that can appropriately manage both off-the-job and on-the-job learning, before confirming the final transition.

A key purpose of holding organisations would be to protect the interests of employers during the transition period. This allows industry bodies to reform to ensure continuity of services. They would enable a phased and well-managed transition of ITO functions to workforce development councils and providers. Holding organisations, which would have statutory recognition, would be able to continue to use existing ITO branding.

Roles within your ITO will remain important and in demand, whether in workforce development councils or providers, and new roles will be created to fill the expansion of industry’s involvement in vocational education. Our goal is to retain the services of as many ITO staff as possible within the vocational education system. If you’re a specialist in a certain field you may be invited to help establish a workforce development council or Centre of Vocational Excellence related to your industry.

The transition to the new system will be phased and you will be supported throughout the process. We will keep you up to date with developments on the reform process and what it will mean to you and your job.

I own a business and hire apprentices – what does this mean for me?

Any changes will be carefully managed with limited changes over 2019-2020. Keep hiring apprentices, encouraging your people to enrol and working with your ITO and institute of technology and polytechnic sector 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.

The changes we’re making are about helping you get the consistently well-trained and work-ready workforce with the skills you need, and getting people into work more quickly.

The reform of vocational education presents an opportunity for you to decide what you want industry training to look like and to work with the Government to make it happen.

Industry and employers will have greater influence over the courses and training offered within the new vocational education system, making it easier for you to access training that meets your changing needs. Industry-governed workforce development councils will have comprehensive responsibilities, including advising on funding decisions, standard setting and learner assessment.

To ensure that the transition of the role of supporting on-the-job learning is carefully managed and funded, it is proposed that ITOs or holding organisations (formed from the existing ITOs) would be able to continue to operate current arrangements for supporting on-the-job training until the end of 2022. ITOs would be subject to new recognition conditions on the passing of legislation.

A key purpose of holding organisations would be to protect the interests of employers during the transition period. This allows industry bodies to reform to ensure continuity of services. They would enable a phased and well-managed transition of ITO functions to workforce development councils and providers. Holding organisations, which would have statutory recognition, would be able to continue to use existing ITO branding.