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ITO model is working for our Māori learners: Skills Active

Skills Active Aotearoa is dumbfounded at claims from a representative of the polytech sector that a high level of Māori achievement in industry training can be replicated under the proposed mega-polytech.

Unitec chief executive Merran Davis says that the New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology, a proposed merger of all 16 polytechs, can be designed so as to create ideal conditions for Māori learners to succeed.

Ms Davis is quoted by Radio New Zealand as saying “Māori ownership” of the new model is key to closing gaps between Māori and non-Māori, and that Māori should be “represented at a governance and a senior management or executive level”.

Skills Active chair Sam Napia says Skills Active’s Māori trainees are already at parity with non-Māori trainees, in terms of educational success.

“We have a tried and tested model that is delivering results. Ms Davis promotes discarding a system that works for Māori in favour of some vague prospect that a mega-polytech, tasked with the training needs of a quarter of a million people, will immediately be able to replicate what we’ve built up over 25 years, with a 50% Māori shareholding,” he says.

“The proposed new mega-polytechnic has no defined structure, no relationships and no assurances from government regarding its design. Minister Chris Hipkins won’t even acknowledge that he has received feedback from Māori that they are unhappy with the reform proposals. Why would anyone assume the government will prioritise the needs of Māori in the design stage, when they have repeatedly ignored Māori voices calling for a longer consultation period?

“Skills Active is already 50% Māori-owned, and that is undoubtedly one of the reasons why we are able to deliver higher Māori success rates than Unitec or any other polytech or university.

“Māori interests will not be well-served by an attitude that makes assumptions about what works for them based on nothing more than a wing and a prayer,” says Mr Napia.

“The ITP sector has failed Maori in terms of delivering training and qualifications that promote better outcomes. The comments by Ms Davis demonstrate that the sector is out of touch with Māori, Māori employers and the aspirations of on-the-job trainees.

“Handing the important role of kaitiaki of Māori vocational education achievement over to an ITP sector that does not understand or recognise that failure, demonstrates why the proposed reform structure is doomed to fail,” Mr Napia says.

“Our thriving Māori trainees are proof that the ITO system is not broken. The success of Māori learners in an industry training setting should not be up for experimentation.”

Mr Napia says there is room to strengthen the industry training system, and Skills Active has made a detailed submission on how to achieve the outcomes the government seeks, without destroying the career prospects of 147,000 on-the-job trainees.


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