Trade leaders meet as Government proposes big changes to apprenticeships

Building and construction leaders are meeting in Auckland for an urgent summit set up to discuss possible changes to apprenticeship training.

It comes as the Government proposes merging all of the country's polytechnics along with the streamlining of vocational training.

In 2019 more than 13,000 apprentices will become qualified tradespeople, but according to the industry, the new Government proposals could derail its future workforce.

"If this doesn't happen smoothly, employers will disengage, which means they won't take on apprentices and we'll lose four or five years," says Warwick Quinn, the CEO of The Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation.

"That will take another four or five years to put right."

The Government has proposed forming one super polytechnic from all of the current, local versions, while forcing apprenticeship schemes to achieve the same standards across the country.

Those moves could see Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) be stripped of some their functions.

"[The] thing they want to retain [is] their sense of control and influence, and so whatever new system that's developed in the future, it has got to retain that," Quinn says.

ITOs manage all the book work and assessments for apprentices. They also help people find apprenticeships and monitor the employers to ensure they're providing the right training.

The proposed changes would see a new body or new providers take on those roles.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins says the proposed changes are being made because the current system isn't working.

He told Newshub there's too much tension between industry training organisations and polytechnics because they're competing for the same students.

"The system's far too fragmented, far too disjointed; [it's] hard for employers to navigate their way through and hard for the people who want to enter the industry to get into," he says.

Mr Hipkins told Newshub that ITOs will still play a leadership role as an industry voice.

Meanwhile, industry leaders hope any new system won't 'build a bigger hole' in our tradie shortage.


Contact Newshub with your story tips: