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Productivity Commission report deserves wider conversation

Productivity Commission report deserves wider conversation

In light of the release of the Productivity Commission's final report, the Industry Training Federation seeks a broader and sector-led conversation for how tertiary education can be more responsive to the needs of the productive sector.

“The report is an impressive undertaking," says Industry Training Federation Chief Executive Josh Williams. "It's the first time in a long time that the whole system has been described in one place, warts and all."

"While it doesn't describe or prescribe 'new models', it makes several recommendations that, if implemented well, could ensure that post-school education is more responsive and adaptive to workforce needs." Mr Williams says.

“On our read, the call to action from the Productivity Commission's report - and the desire of many of the system's stakeholders - is to collaborate more naturally, make transitions easier, and make education and training more flexible and responsive.”

In that light, it is disappointing to see early coverage and comment on the report limited to student loans and university entrance.

"Our young people will have a 50-year career in a rapidly changing world, so focussing all our tertiary education attention on the first three years after leaving school is a continuing recipe for skills mismatch." Mr Williams says.

Similarly, the role of University Entrance is worth questioning, but needs to be given its correct perspective, given that higher education is not the pathway for the majority of school leavers, and since University Entrance becomes a moot point once someone turns 20.

"The real question, that the Productivity Commission asked, but didn't answer, is 'how can we ensure that our collective efforts and investments in tertiary education deliver demonstrable positive impacts in the productive economy?'"

The Industry Training and Apprenticeship model exemplifies a partnership model, in which employers partner with tertiary providers around the country to deliver the right skills at the right time, offering fit for purpose and responsive education to people of all ages and stages of their careers.

Industry Training-related recommendations in the report include the proposal to remove the level-based subsidy cap, develop value-added performance measures, and to equalise funding rates between New Zealand Apprenticeships and Managed Apprenticeships.

The ITF also supports moves to incentivise pathways between provider-based and work-based education, such as not punishing providers' performance indicators when their students gain employment - especially when this articulates into industry training or apprenticeships.

The Industry Training Federation welcomes the opportunity to work with Universities, Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics, Wananga and Private Training Establishments to improve responsiveness and connections between the world of education and the world of work.

"The various players in a complicated system have separately told the Commission why they think the system is constrained. With this report in hand, now is clearly time for the sector to show leadership and work together in the best interests of learners - we don't need to wait for the government's response for that." Mr Williams says.


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