Reforms of NZ vocational education “bravest move in decades"
Proposed reforms of NZ vocational education “bravest move in decades,” says union
15 February 2019
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The Tertiary Institutes Allied Staff Association (TIASA) which represent non-teaching – (allied/professional) - staff throughout the NZ tertiary education sector, says the reform of vocational education proposals released by Education Minister Chris Hipkins are the biggest changes since the 30 year old ‘Learning for Life’ tertiary education changes that created the current system.
“But that system is no longer fit for purpose”, says TIASA national president Shelley Weir. “All those involved in the sector, from employers, business, industry training organisations, the ITP’s (Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics) and other key stakeholders - recognise that and have argued for major change. Certainly, allied staff throughout the sector well understand this. The current situation of wasteful and counterproductive competition between different tertiary providers, constant cost cutting, staffing reviews/job losses, sinking-lid funding, staff and course cuts, and closures can’t continue. The results have been reduced access and increased costs for too many learners and those who would like to be learners. Our country urgently needs to have a modern, responsive and flexible vocational education and skills training system that can better meet the needs and pressures not just of today but those of tomorrow as well.”
“This issue is greater than sectoral interests or patch protection. Until now, no Minister has had the courage to make the changes that are now overdue. Yet the massive problems across the tertiary education sector and the looming future and its pressures provide ample evidence for why such major changes are needed,” she said.
The Minister has made it clear that the proposal is not about redundancies. Staff will inevitably be affected but, where peoples’ jobs change there will be support through the transition, upskilling, redeployment and retraining – redundancies will be the last resort. This is welcome news.
There will be disruption but by working together we can ensure that the learners of today and tomorrow can gain the skills, resilience, capabilities and ongoing access to the training and skills development and redevelopment most will need many times throughout their lives. TIASA will be working closely with all other stakeholders over the weeks ahead to collaboratively create a new approach that meets present and future demands.
This radical reform proposal is brave and is the biggest change in decades. The proposal is now open for public consultation but timeframes are tight. This is critically important for us all. We urge everyone to have their say through the feedback, regional and local meetings, and submissions processes.