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Statement from Ara Institute of Canterbury’s Chief Executive

Today, the government has clearly identified a strong vision for vocational education, with a number of key components that will affect all of New Zealand’s Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs).

While we know broadly what upcoming changes may occur, there is as yet a significant lack of detail. This means that it is important for Ara to focus on the day-to-day context of its work for students and colleagues. As always, our focus will be on ensuring a productive and enjoyable year ahead for our students.

At the same time we will be strong contributors to the government’s consultation process and will be closely considering how the proposed changes will be most effective in delivering the very best outcomes from vocational education. The government has told us that, during the reform process, it wants to make sure that retraining and redeployment opportunities exist.

The government’s proposal ‘Reform of Vocational Education’ brings together the original review of the Vocational Education Training system led by the Ministry of Education and the Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs) Roadmap 2020, led by the Tertiary Education Commission.

It has three main components. Of most significance to Ara is the proposal that all 16 ITPs will be brought under a single body called the New Zealand Institute of Skills & Technology. It is proposed that it will have a central governing body, with regions providing information about what is needed around the country.

A review of the role of ITOs is also proposed. It is suggested that they are reshaped into industry skills bodies that will focus on skills leadership; setting standards; working with new Centres of Vocational Excellence; and advising the Tertiary Education Commission about purchasing decisions.

To reduce duplication and competition and ensure better use of public money, a changed funding model is being considered. The government has said it will work through the details of this new Vocational Education funding regime after consultation.

A clear message has been given that the government wants input from all local regional stakeholders including all ITPs, ITOs, iwi, and employers. A period of consultation starts today and will run until 27 March. More information about this is available on the Kōrero Mātauranga website. A cabinet decision on the proposed changes will likely be made in mid 2019 with a view to legislation being introduced from 1 January 2020.

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