Vocational training shakeup gets thumbs up from rural groups

A major shakeup to vocational training has been welcomed by rural groups who say it will help address the labour shortage in the sector.

The Government has confirmed that New Zealand's 16 institutes of technology and polytechnics will be merged as a single entity in April 2020.

Workforce Development Councils will be created by 2022 to replace and expand most of the existing roles of industry training organisations. 

DairyNZ Chief Executive Dr Tim Mackle welcomed the announcement and said the dairy industry had been facing considerable challenges in meeting workforce and skills needs for some time.

"It's really important for the future of our industry that we are able to attract, train, and retain young kiwis with a passion for dairy," he said.

Dr Tim Mackle said farmers are struggling to find staff with the right skills to get the job done.
Dr Tim Mackle said farmers are struggling to find staff with the right skills to get the job done. Photo credit: Supplied

"A consistent message we are hearing from our farmers is that they are struggling to find staff with the right skills to get the job done. An effective vocational education system is critical to growing the skills we need at all levels of the business, be it owner or farm assistant.

"We believe that change is necessary to unlock the full potential of vocational learning in the dairy sector and today's announcement presents a unique opportunity to reshape the system,"  said Dr Mackle.

He said DairyNZ had been working with the Government and other primary sector organisations to identify solutions that will build capability and capacity in the sector.

"The structure and governance of the new Institute, the workforce development councils, and the Centres of Vocational Excellence must enable active partnering with industry bodies, such as DairyNZ."

Meanwhile, Horticulture New Zealand has also welcomed the changes.

HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman said it would give industries including horticulture more of a say in vocational education.

"If industries such as horticulture are to respond to challenges such as climate change and shifts in consumer preference, vocational education must be industry-led, better-coordinated and future-focused," he said.

"We think it is great that the Government 'is putting industry in charge' through initiatives like the Workforce Development Councils and Centres of Vocational Excellence because for too long, there has been a huge gap between industry and vocational education's decision-makers and providers," said Chapman.

MIke Chapman (left)  is pleased there will be more industry involvement in training courses.
MIke Chapman (left) is pleased there will be more industry involvement in training courses. Photo credit: Supplied

'We are pleased that by 2022, employer-delivered on-the-job training will be better integrated with off-the-job training, particularly as in horticulture, training out in the field is critical to understanding and technique.

He said the changes would mean that people choosing primary sector careers would be offered clearer, more flexible pathways. 

"This move will help make our sector more attractive to young people, which will improve diversity, talent and ultimately, retention."

The key changes announced:

 

-Around four to seven industry-governed Workforce Development Councils will be created by 2022 to replace and expand most of the existing roles of industry training organisations

-The 16 institutes of technology and polytechnics will be brought together to operate as a single national campus network

-New Regional Skills Leadership Groups will represent regional interests and will work across education, immigration and welfare systems in each region

-Over the next two to three years, the role of supporting workplace learning will shift from industry training organisations to training providers

-Centres of Vocational Excellence (CoVEs) will be established at regional campuses

-Māori will be included as key partners, including through Te Taumata Aronui, a Māori Crown Tertiary Education Group

Newshub.

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