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A new future for work skills training in NZ

QPEC welcomes the Minister's refreshing approach to Vocational Education, including the proposal for a new funding model for the sector that removes competition among institutes. We look forward to much enhanced certainty, stability, and equity for the polytechnics.

We see two areas where we hope there will be a widened vision in framing the changes.

First, the Minister stresses an increased role for business and industry:

the Government’s first proposal is to give industry an increased leadership role in vocational education.

We note the recent debacle of Unitec, which has lost dramatic numbers of students and revenue, not because of too little attention to business needs, but because of too much.

From 2013-2018, Unitec adopted a market model which redesigned its structures and functioning entirely in the interests of business and industry: e.g., replacing career instructors with casual, industry employees; insisting on a maximum of on-line delivery; outsourcing student services; constructing a corporate model which is inappropriate for tertiary education. (Please see report, Blind Faith

Tertiary education, we argue, is to prepare students for fulfilling careers, with potential for life-long learning, meeting the needs of the country, in both public and private sectors.

Second, the speech has a repeated focus on "skills and training." We urge the Minister to concentrate on Vocational Education, which embeds skills in a wider educational context. We see Vocational Education as equipping graduates not just to use the right tools properly but to be able to critically examine

• the nature of their chosen occupation
• relevant practice and theory
• drastically changing work-places
• social and political aspects of trades, disciplines and occupations
• ethical issues in work
• wider social concerns such as climate destruction and its effects

As the Education Act puts it, tertiary education that "responds to the needs of learners, stakeholders, and the nation . . . contributes to the sustainable economic and social development of the nation"

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