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Pulling together the only way for students and the country

TEU Media Release.

1st August 2019

Pulling together the only way now for the sake of students and the country

The announcement today that the government will proceed with unifying the vocational education and training sector will only succeed if the promise to recognise academic, general, and allied staff as sector experts and leaders is implemented fully.

TEU National Secretary Sharn Riggs says “Students, communities, staff, and employers have been impacted under a decade of uncertainty and underfunding with divisive policies in tertiary education pitting polytechnics against private training establishments, industry trainers and against each other. This divisiveness ends with the today’s announcement.”

“Now staff, students, community, iwi, and industry leaders need to pull together for the good of our country.”

Riggs says that while there was no accepted single way for this sector to be brought together, there is little doubt that most staff wanted an end to the free market approach to education which saw retrenchment of education opportunities in many communities.

TEU is pleased to see that there will be a charter that sets down everyone’s responsibility to ensure regional and metropolitan communities have access to vocational education and training in what the Minister has said will be a “coherent and coordinated national system”. “Students, their whanau, communities, industry, and employers need to know there is a stable baseline of provision wherever you live,” says Riggs, “this is what has been missing up until now and what a coordinated system can deliver.”

TEU Vice President Sarah Proctor-Thomson says a major win has been the decision to legislate roles for staff, students, and communities in creating the future of vocational education. “For over a decade many staff and students have felt under-valued and ignored by their senior leadership. They have often seen decisions made by managers that show little concern for teaching and learning needs. This is reinforced by the by research we’ve done which shows a lack of staff voice in the direction of many polytechnics” says Proctor-Thomson. “It’s exciting to see a proposal that puts staff, students, iwi, and communities at the heart of creating a system that delivers for students, communities and employers.”

Proctor-Thomson says the TEU has long advocated that academic, general and allied staff are the best ones to design teaching, learning, administrative and support service, and research approaches.

“Staff are the ones who will make sure the promise of life-changing education in our system becomes a reality. This includes ongoing involvement of trained teaching staff in designing curriculum, assessing quality, and of course the day-to-day work we do in workshops, laboratories, classrooms and more,” says Proctor Thomson.

The TEU sees the need for industry informed teaching in vocational education and training, and this Minister must ensure that staff who have teaching and learning qualifications are strongly connected into the qualifications approval framework, and through both the Workforce Development Councils and Regional Skills Leadership Groups.

National Industrial Officer Irena Brorens says that in this time of great change the Minister and Transition Board need to ensure a level of transitional certainty. “We are pleased that there is a clearly set out time-frame to work out the structure of the new entity and employment relationships within it. That ensures employees are transferred to the new entity and their collective agreements are transferred on 1 April 2020.

TEU will push to ensure the government follow through on its ongoing promises to provide proper transition funding. This funding must include providing resources to stop the ongoing cuts to programmes and services in the current polytechnics. Brorens says “If the government and transition board don’t act now, there will be no courses left on which to build a network. A new day for vocational education starts with stabilising and then building new and exciting opportunities.”

Longer term the aim of the reform is to consolidate some services. TEU members do not accept this means large scale job losses. Together we will be making sure that the skills and knowledge of existing staff is kept in the vocational education sector. We believe this change should deliver more jobs in the vocational education sector as we provide more education opportunities for communities around New Zealand.

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