The New Zealand government’s proposal to reform vocational education could undermine the success of training and apprenticeships at a time of critical skills shortages in forestry, says industry training organisation (ITO) Competenz.
Chief executive Fiona Kingsford is encouraging the forestry industry to this week provide feedback on the plan, which includes replacing all 16 polytechs with a new national organisation called the New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology, which would be responsible for delivering all on-job and off-job training.
Industry-owned ITOs like Competenz would no longer exist – they would no longer arrange training or support the learning and assessment of apprentices and trainees in the workplace. Mrs Kingsford says Competenz is concerned that employers’ ability to influence how their programmes are delivered will become less flexible and unable to be adapted to individual workplaces under a centralised model.
“The changes the government has proposed are more complex and far-reaching than we expected. There is no doubt the system needs modification and funding needs to be realigned to deliver what our industries need – but these changes are too radical. In a time of critical skills shortages, the last thing we want is a reform that risks undermining workplace training and apprenticeship programmes”.
“Yes, the system needs reform and yes we need to address the funding inequalities, but in our opinion, these changes are not the way to do it.” Mrs Kingsford says Competenz currently looks after 20,000 trainees and apprentices across 3,500 New Zealand businesses. The direct relationship between ITOs and employers is a key factor in the success of training and apprenticeships.
“The role of ITOs is crucial and with our direct line to thousands of employers, we understand the demand for trades better than anyone else. When we surveyed employers last year, they told us that ITOs perform a critical function and need more funding. The reform goes against what industry is saying. We need evolution not revolution.”
Competenz has until 27 March to make a submission on the proposal and provide feedback that reflects the voice of the forestry industry and the other sectors it supports. A survey was sent to all forest owners, contractors and assessors who work with Competenz, and Mrs Kingsford and her team met with FICA representatives on Monday 11 March to discuss the proposal and gather feedback.
There is still time to have your say.
– Find out more at haveyoursay.competenz.org.nz.
– Email Competenz at email@example.com
– Write to the government at firstname.lastname@example.org
– See Reform of Vocational Education on education.govt.nz.
Photo: DG Glenn Logging workers and Competenz trainees on the job in Hawke’s Bay