NZCTU President Richard Wagstaff said he was disappointed in the Government’s short-sighted decision to shut down the Regional Skills Leadership Groups (RSLGs), saying it is further evidence of the Government’s lack of a strategy when it comes to vocational education and workforce planning.
“Coming off the back of the reckless decision to disestablish Te Pūkenga, this is another example of the new Government’s slash and burn approach. As with Te Pūkenga, the government hasn’t announced what will be replacing the RSLGs. This will only add to the uncertainty facing the vocational education sector and its workforce,” said Wagstaff.
“The RSLGs, which were set up as part of the Reform of Vocational Education, play an important role in identifying skills and workforce needs across different regions of the country.
“Aotearoa New Zealand suffers from persistent skills shortages and high levels of skills mismatching. This hinders productivity growth and increases the wage scarring experienced by workers who lose their job.
“With unemployment forecast to rise over the next year, we should be looking at how we can support people into good work and help employers find the essential skills they need.
“The NZCTU supported the establishment of the RSLGs as mechanisms for rebuilding New Zealand’s capacity for regional economic development, including skills and workforce planning.
“Importantly, the RSLGs promote worker voice in the development of training initiatives and solutions to persistent labour market problems in different parts of the country.
“Union representatives on RSLGs speak for the interests of our members as learners and give workers a voice in the skills and workforce development strategies of their regions.
“While the new government has been quick to first disestablish Te Pūkenga, and now the RSLGs, we are yet to hear what its alternative plan is for vocational education,” said Wagstaff.