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BCITO welcomes Centre of Vocational Excellence

The Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO) is pleased that the Government is moving quickly to establish the first construction Centre of Excellence (CoVE). These are part of the Reforms of Vocational Education with the first CoVE announced last week for the Primary sector.

Under the decision from Minister of Education Chris Hipkins, the construction sector CoVE will bring together education and industry bodies to develop vocational education.

Warwick Quinn, BCITO Chief Executive, says establishing a construction CoVE is an important development. “Construction consists of many small firms and the delivery of quality vocational training by small firms is a real challenge the sector faces. The construction industry employs over 250,000 people but 91 percent of the companies in the sector have 5 staff of less. This makes training, innovation, and research & development a casualty of how the construction industry is structured so the creation of a CoVE is a great step forward”

Quinn says because the sector finds it difficult to innovate and respond to changes in technology the concept of CoVEs means responses can be developed centrally and the knowledge shared. He says a great example is the Pre-fab, or off site construction space.

“At the moment training in this area is shared between multiple ITOs and providers, and while we all do our bit, no one is charged with grabbing the issue and running with it. Having a CoVE focus on what is required, develop best practice vocational training and delivery, that is then available to everyone, is far preferable than everyone having a crack at it and all doing it poorly. We are just too small a country to have so much duplication and not share our knowledge for the betterment of our industry”.

He says there are also still a lot of questions on how CoVEs will interact with the other parts of the vocational education sector under the reforms such as the Workforce Development Councils, Regional Skills Bodies and training providers.

Quinn thinks there could be many CoVEs in each sector who will specialise. “I don’t think it is possible for a CoVE to be all things to all people so I can envisage a number of these to respond to particular needs. It will be about who is best placed to answer a unique issue and where that expertise resides”.

Quinn says the BCITO is committed to ensuring the reforms of the vocational education system benefits employers and apprentices and will work with the Government to ensure that happens. Skills in the construction sector are in high demand with some 80,000 new workers required over the next 5 years of which about half need to be trade qualified.

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