Following widespread disquiet at the and scale of implications of the Government's proposed substantial changes to the vocational education system, BCITO yesterday held a sector summit in Auckland to discuss the issues and work towards a response to the proposals.
As might be expected, BCITO says as many as two thirds of attendees - described as "a broad mix of industry leaders and employers who work with the ITOs and polytechs" - did not support the Government’s proposals and instead "voiced concerns around the negative impact such widespread changes would have on the sector".
“The purpose of the summit was to agree the non-negotiables any new system must provide to ensure employers and apprentices stay engaged,” says BCITO's Warwick Quinn.
"What we have gained today is an agreed list of what industry expects to be incorporated in any future system.
“Today attendees made it clear that they value sector control of both the standard setting and delivery of training.
"While they appreciate the greater control of the standard setting under the proposals they are concerned that control of the delivery is at risk.
“They value the relationships they have with their ITOs.
"Under the current system, our field staff build strong relationships with every individual employer and apprentice. This allows us to customise their learning.
"In construction, most people learn from mentoring and support. They don’t learn from books. This focus needs to be retained in any reforms, and the sector is sceptical how this will work in the new system.
“There was concern from many in the room that the smaller trades will fall through the cracks of a single, large institution. They are also concerned that advocacy work carried out by ITOs will be lost. As a result, we will struggle to attract people into the sector."
“One positive in the Government’s proposal is the extended reach and control over what providers can deliver. This is one aspect we would support,” says Warwick Quinn (pictured above in less tumultuous times).
“The overarching question we will be asking Ministers is how they can mitigate the risks identified by industry today in any sector reform,” he says.
“This is too important to get wrong.”
With responses to the Government's proposals due on 27 March, BCITO says it will "continue to consult the sector to ensure a robust response to the Government proposals".
To recap, what is being proposed?
Looking specifically at what the ITOs would provide under the new scheme includes “skills leadership, coordinating industry efforts to identify and plan to address future skills needs”, the setting of standards and approval of qualifications.
It would also mean ITOs adopting a support-and-advise role, that their current “arranging training” role for work-based vocational education would transfer to vocational education providers and that the purchasing of off-job courses for work-based trainees would transfer to the Tertiary Education Commission.
Find the consultation and other related documents here.
[Please note the above event took place after we signed off the March issue of NZ Hardware Journal.]