New Zealand’s Vocational Education Reform Announcement: A Snapshot

Claudia Reiners
July 31, 2019

New Zealand’s Vocational Education Reform Announcement: A Snapshot

4bf428ed6af9ff680b7ac8b24b046f3d?s=50&d=mm&r=g Claudia Reiners
Head of Strategy

The New Zealand Government is reforming the vocational education and training system, as a component of the national Education Conversation | Kōrero Mātauranga.

Minister Chris Hipkins will announce the decisions to changes to vocational education this Thursday, 1 August 2019 at 12PM via a Facebook live-stream video link. The Minister has also opened up the opportunity to send in questions for a Q&A.

The Reform of Vocational Education, lead by the Ministry of Education, is striving towards providing students with an accessible, unified vocational education scheme.

This transformation is expected to dramatically enhance the training opportunities they require to keep up with employer expectations and the future of the workforce.

Desired Outcomes

The Reform is investigating how the current scheme could be improved further, with the desired outcome being a Vocational Education and Training (VET) system, where:

  • Students can depend on vocational education to provide them with valuable education and employment opportunities
  • Education programmes are developed with student needs in mind, particularly Māori and Pacific peoples, individuals with lower levels of previous education and individuals with disabilities
  • New Zealand’s 16 public institutes of technology and polytechnics are unified into a single institution (ITPs), which will be renamed as the New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology
  • This new system accommodates to any new changes or educational models in future

It’s time to reset the whole system and fundamentally rethink the way we view vocational education and training, and how it’s delivered.

– Education Minister Chris Hipkins

What Do These Changes Mean For Stakeholders?

As a result of many stakeholder discussions that occurred throughout 2019, with participants such as students, employers, Māori representatives, ITP institutes and others, the Government’s strong emphasis on stakeholder collaboration in the vocational industry suggests that this concept of establishing a “a unified, coordinated, national system of vocational education and training” is at the forefront of the reform.

If the proposed changes were to go ahead, the following transformations have been predicted for the below stakeholders:

  • Regions

    The New Zealand Institute of Skills & Technology system would provide regional stakeholders with the opportunity to access a stable and supportive scheme, with campuses offering more options when it comes to the delivery of education, as well as serving the needs of local communities and employers.

  • Domestic and international learners

    Learners can be confident that the New Zealand Institute of Skills & Technology system will offer them the skill set that they need to flourish, both throughout their studies and upon graduation. There is a strong emphasis on making investments in ‘quality education’ – students will have the opportunity to gain qualifications that employers are desperately seeking. This is also followed through to trainees and apprentices, with the promise of more hands-on support.

  • Employers and industry

    Employers and industry are set to have options when engaging with vocational education providers, with improved synthesis of workplace and ICT-based education programs. This is expected to create better employees with the industry-specific abilities that employers need.

  • Vocational education providers

    Following on from employer and industry, vocational education providers will in turn have the ability to offer training in workplaces, along with existing provider-based services – although it is not a compulsory element of the reform that all providers must partake in, the ones that do choose to embrace it will further develop their competence in working with employers and their teams.

  • Teaching staff in the vocational education system

    With the introduction of the New Zealand Institute of Skills & Technology system, teaching staff will be presented the opportunity to spend time with both students and employers to design courses and assessments that better align with the industry areas that they are basing their teachings around.

Like any change, disruption in the vocational education sector is expected once the Reform of Vocational Education is announced tomorrow.

Despite this, the New Zealand Government has assured that regardless of any change that passes, stakeholders will be closely supported to ensure that each can make the most of this implementation of change.

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Claudia Reiners
Head of Strategy
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