NZ boots apprenticeships with government wage subsidies

NZ boots apprenticeships with government wage subsidies

The apprenticeship support scheme, Apprenticeship Boost will provide businesses with up to $16,000 to help pay the cost of each apprentice for the first two years and is part of a wider government programme to keep apprentices in jobs and support employers to invest in new ones, as the country rebuilds the economy from the impact of COVID-19

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Qualifications Authority considers axing entire diploma category

Significant and persistent quality problems centred on foreign students could see an entire class of qualification abolished.

Generic Library / Students

Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

The Qualifications Authority (NZQA) is considering the future of level 7 diplomas, one-year qualifications that sit at the same level of the Qualifications Framework as a bachelor’s degree.

Consultation papers highlighted problems associated with the rapid proliferation of the diplomas as a qualification favoured by foreign students.

“The main issue associated with this qualification type is that there are some persistent and on-going quality concerns,” an NZQA consultation paper said.

“Whilst there appears to be a strong need for level 7 diplomas in some industries, some have recently been used as a fast track to residency for international students. This led to an increase in provision, and subsequent concerns about international students’ English language proficiency.”

Another document said: “Since external monitoring of level 7 diplomas commenced in 2016 a number of significant issues with English language testing and assessment practice have been identified.”

However, the documents also noted that immigration rules changed in December last year and the authority had strengthened its monitoring activities.

NZQA acting deputy chief executive for quality assurance Eve McMahon said the authority was considering options including abolishing the diplomas altogether, or retaining them but changing monitoring requirements and reviewing each of the existing qualifications.

“The main thing with the level 7 diplomas is that they are not a degree qualification, but they sit at the same level as degree qualifications and part of our thinking was do we need both or do we just need degree level qualifications at level 7,” she said.

Qualifications Authority figures showed in 2017 there were 2550 equivalent full-time students enrolled in the programmes, 1520 of whom were foreign students.

Executive general manager academic and provost at Manukau Institute of Technology, Martin Carroll, said changes to work visas and residence rules had reduced foreign student enrolments in level 7 diplomas.

He said the qualifications were aimed at skill shortage areas and they had value for domestic students too.

“So there is a reason for having the programme, it was not simply a fast-track to residency for international students as some people have claimed.”

Professor Carroll said the level 7 diploma should be retained because students in vocational education and training should be able to find vocational qualifications at every level of the Qualifications Framework.

“We want to keep these smaller packages of learning, these certificates and diplomas, at every level of the framework so they don’t need to disrupt their career for a period of three or four years in order to access higher levels of learning.”

The chief executive of private tertiary institute, Aspire2, Clare Bradley said half of its first-time international students were enrolled in level 7 diplomas.

She said axing the qualifications would hurt enrolments and it would take time to divert future students into other courses.

“Turning it on its head would be quite complex and quite time-consuming and certainly expensive for providers to adjust. It means reorganising a lot of our messaging, for us that’s in about 30 different markets, and re-educating our recruitment networks.”

Ms Bradley said the option of studying for a year and then working in New Zealand was attractive for a lot of foreign students.

Since 2016 the Qualifications Authority had taken a more stringent approach to monitoring the programmes, and that had driven some providers out of business, she said.


New powerhouse of primary sector vocational education

New powerhouse of primary sector vocational education to be set up
The primary sector has been named the first centre of excellence for vocational education, to drive innovation and strengthen links between education providers and industry, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced today.

The centre will be a prototype and is part of the wider reform of vocational education announced this month to address the mismatch between training provided and the needs of employers.

It is a response to a serious skills shortage across the sector and the technological changes happening across the primary industries. The centre will be positioned at the forefront of research and lead technological innovations in the primary industries.

“Establishing a Primary Sector Centre of Vocational Excellence is another sign of the Coalition Government’s commitment to the primary sector and to raising the status of vocational education.” Chris Hipkins said.

“For too long, vocational education has been starved of attention and resources and yet we know there are huge skills shortages and great, skilled jobs to be had in the strategically important primary industry. National dropped the ball, but we are changing that.

“The centre will be formed of a consortium that includes education and industry experts and researchers, and will drive innovation and excellence in vocational teaching and learning within the primary sector. It will be hosted by a regional campus of the New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology, or by a wānanga.”

Functions for the centre could include:
• Sharing high-quality curriculum and programme design
• Sharing applied research with employers and providers
• Sharing learning technologies with providers of vocational education to minimise cost and duplication
• Providing training support for employers
• Strengthening pathways into vocational education, including from school
• Other functions as deemed necessary by the centre.

“I plan to seek proposals before the end of the year to establish where in the vocational educational national network the centre would be located and what functions it will include,’” Chris Hipkins said.

“The Government expects to work with the primary sector’s Skills Leaders Working Group and other industry leaders, to move quickly to form proposals for the centre. The sector has signalled a strong need to rebuild and reshape its training institutions following a decline in recent years.”

Cabinet has agreed funding of $18 million over four years to establish three prototype centres.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said he’s delighted to see that the first prototype will be for the primary industries.

“I’m also pleased to see that industry representatives, including the Skills Leaders Working Group, will be working with government on the proposals for the pilot.

“I see the centre as a great opportunity to make a difference to the quality of teaching and learning, and ensure that people working in the primary industries have the skills they need now and in the future.”

Chris Hipkins said centres of vocational excellence for other areas of specialist expertise are being considered, and will be announced shortly.



New Zealand First celebrates success of Mana in Mahi

NZ First Party

Clayton Mitchell, Employment Spokesperson

New Zealand First has welcomed today’s announcement, that Mana in Mahi – Strength in Work, will begin its second phase.

“Phase one has gone even better than we expected. It has seen 247 people placed into Mana in Mahi roles, exceeding the targeted number by almost 100,” says New Zealand First Employment Spokesperson Clayton Mitchell.

“Phase two will extend the number of places available up to 2,000, thanks for a $49.9 million boost. It will focus on apprenticeships and an industry training pathway to provide opportunities for young people, including a wage subsidy of $9,580 (GST exclusive) to employers who commit to hiring a young person, and provide them with full-time work.

“Phase two will also improve on what was developed in the phase one, including part time employees in the scheme, making the process for employers easier, and reducing the administrative procedures of being involved.

“New Zealand First has consistently campaigned to provide wage subsidies for small businesses that take on apprentices, job seekers or to provide work experience. We want to provide incentives to employers, so that as many young people as possible can start the pathway to a meaningful career,” says Mr Mitchell.

/Public Release. View in full here.

More than half happy with single body of polytechnics/institutes

Just over half of the respondents in this week’s Herald webpoll agree with the creation of one national body of polytechnics and institutes of technology, meaning EIT becomes one of 16 “subsidiary” institutions.

Of the 344 voters, 56 percent (191) voted “yes”, 39 percent (133) “no” and 5 percent (20) “don’t know”.

Among the “yes” commenters, one said having a single qualification developer and academic quality management system was the key improvement as opposed to having 16 information and finance systems.

“New Zealand is too small to have so many polytechnics and that’s why so many current polytechnics are in trouble and are not world-leading educators.”

“Adds value to the degrees/diplomas when it’s a national standard,” another “yes” voter wrote.

Another said: “It is a great shame that EIT is not as forward-thinking and professional as SIT (Southern Institute of Technology), which is the only polytech deserving of operating individually.”

“Too much distribution of power” and “the sooner the better” were also comments among those who voted “yes”.

In the “no” camp, a commenter wrote smaller regions lose their autonomy. “Decisions are made based on national data, not regional. The issues here in Tairawhiti are not the same as in Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch. Risk is funding will go to bums on seats not innovative thinking relevant to the communities the institutes are in.”

Another suggested they go back to how it was when it worked, before it was privatised.

“When block courses were required. When you learned your trade. Not now where you get Brownie points for attendance.”

A few commented “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”

Another “no” voter wrote:“Gisborne is quite capable of organising and running its institute of technology to provide what is required for this district.”


A new dawn for work skills and training

Hon Chris Hipkins
Minister of Education 

1 August, 2019 MEDIA STATEMENT

The Government is tackling the long-term challenges of skills shortages and the mismatch between training provided and the needs of employers, by comprehensively reforming vocational education, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced today.

“A strong, unified, and sustainable system for vocational education and training will provide opportunities to improve the skills of all New Zealanders, no matter where they are in their education or career and will support a growing economy that works for everyone,” Chris Hipkins said.

“Vocational education, trades training and on-the-job training have been allowed to drift for too long. These are long-term challenges that this government is committed to fixing.

“The comprehensive changes we are making will address the widespread skills shortages across most industry sectors. These shortages highlight the limitations of the current vocational educational system.”

Why we are making these changes

“Repeated forecasts show that one third of all jobs in New Zealand are likely to be significantly affected by automation, and by as early as 2022 more than half of all employees will require significant upskilling and retraining.
“As lower-skilled jobs disappear we need our people to learn new skills, often while on the job, earning while they are learning. Furthermore, advances in automation and artificial intelligence mean it won’t just be lower-skilled workers affected.

“We also know the regions are increasingly struggling to find enough skilled people to keep their economies strong. Too many Māori, Pacific and disabled learners are being left behind to achieve at a lower level because the system just won’t respond to their needs.

“New Zealand needs to lift productivity and for that to happen we need more companies to be involved in training and taking on more apprentices.

“Currently however, nearly nine out of 10 of our businesses are not training through industry training. Yet at the same time, 71% of employers surveyed say there is, or will soon be, a skills shortage in their industry area.

“No one thinks the status quo works well for New Zealanders. Except National, which tinkered around the edges and stood back while polytechnics struggled, the number of people in training dropped and skills shortages worsened. This Government was forced to step in and bail several polytechnics out with $100 million, and we know without significant change, things will keep getting worse.
“The plain truth is that while there are some bright spots, the current system is not set up to produce skilled people at the scale we need,” Chris Hipkins said.

The changes

“The changes we are making will give industry greater control over all aspects of vocational education and training, making the system more responsive to employers’ needs and to the changing world of work.

“Industry and employers will identify skills needs, set standards and approve qualifications and credentials, and influence funding decisions.
“The changes will also ensure we do better for learners who haven’t been well-served by the present system.

“We need to make sure that trades and vocational education are recognised and valued. There are great, well-paid jobs available for people with the right skills. We just aren’t meeting the skills needs at the moment.

“We want everyone to have the opportunity to develop the skills they need to thrive in the workforce and earn a good living. People should always have relevant, up-to-date skills that employers need.

“We want to see more work place learning, more apprentices and more opportunities for people to earn while they learn.”

The seven key changes announced are:

• Around four to seven industry-governed Workforce Development Councils will be created by 2022. This will give industry greater control over all aspects of vocational education and make the system more responsive to employers’ needs and to the changing world of work. The councils will replace and expand most of the existing roles of industry training organisations.

• The country’s 16 institutes of technology and polytechnics will be brought together to operate as a single national campus network. A new Institute will start on 1 April 2020 and will be a new kind of organisation that provides on-the-job and off-the-job learning. The head office will not be in Auckland or Wellington, and a charter will be set out in legislation to make sure a number of bottom lines are met.

• New Regional Skills Leadership Groups will represent regional interests and will work across education, immigration and welfare systems in each region to identify local skill needs and make sure the system is delivering the right mix of education and training to meet them.

• Over the next two to three years, the role of supporting workplace learning will shift from industry training organisations to training providers. Holding organisations will be formed from Industry Training Organisations to smooth the transition

• Centres of Vocational Excellence (CoVEs) will be established at regional campuses to drive innovation and expertise, and improve linkages between education, industry and research.

• Māori will be included as key partners, including through Te Taumata Aronui, a Māori Crown Tertiary Education Group – that will work with education agencies and Ministers and cover all aspects of tertiary education. This recognises the needs of Māori learners and that Māori are significant employers with social and economic goals, with an estimated national Māori asset base valued at over $50 billion.

• The dual funding system will be unified and simplified to encourage greater integration of on-the-job and off-the-job learning, ensure learners can access more work-relevant and tailored support, and enable new models of education delivery which are more responsive to employer and industry demand.

The transition process

“We have given a great deal of thought to how to minimise disruption, and listened carefully to the concerns of employers, staff and students,” Chris Hipkins said.

“We are not going to rush the implementation of the changes. To ensure continuity for learners and employers and to allow time to build new capacity, the transition will take three to four years to get fully underway.”
“Learners should enrol in the education provider of their choice as they normally would in 2019 and 2020, including in multi-year programmes, and I encourage people in the workplace to keep training and employers to encourage more workers to sign up.”

Relevant links:
– Cab paper and proactive release documents are here.
– Copies of an overview and a detailed change summary document, along with a summary of submissions and FAQs, is available here.



Christchurch hosts national polytechnic Establishment Board

Christchurch to host national polytechnic Establishment Board

The government is showing confidence in Christchurch with its announcement to locate the Establishment Board for the new national polytechnic in the city.

Over the next two to three years, the vocational education and training industry will see New Zealand’s 16 institutes of technology and polytechnics (ITPs) brought together to operate as a single national campus network.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced the Establishment Board will ensure the new Institute is operational and effective from day one, working from their base in Christchurch.

ChristchurchNZ CEO Joanna Norris said the location of the Establishment Board in the city could be a game changer. “This has the potential to further stimulate the already strong innovation and education offering in the city and the rest of New Zealand,” said Norris.

Earlier this year, as part of its submission on the proposed industry changes ChristchurchNZ advocated for the head office to be located in the city.

The proposal cited a new central city offering, affordable expansion opportunities, a proven and leading provider with Ara Institute of Canterbury already located in the city, as selling points for the head office location.

“Christchurch is an affordable and desirable place to live. We’ve got unrivaled access to the mountains and the sea, growing hospitality and recreational attractions and excellent domestic and international air connections.

“We look forward to supporting the Board to achieve the potential of the new model,” said Norris. Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said that the announcement was a vote of confidence in the city. “We are very proud of the role the Ara Institute of Canterbury plays within the city’s innovation ecosystem. It’s co-location with the Innovation Precinct makes the central city a perfect location for the Establishment Board to be based,” said Dalziel.