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Primary ITO: Knowledge to grow

News & Features

Primary sector Centre of Vocational Excellence a sign of confidence

16 August 2019

Primary ITO is welcoming the announcement that the primary sector will get the first of the Government’s new Centres of Vocational Excellence (CoVEs).

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

“It’s a real vote of confidence in New Zealand’s primary industry that this will be the first of the centres of vocational excellence,” says Primary ITO’s chief executive Linda Sissons.

“The primary industry collectively employs 350,000 people and is our biggest export earner so moving quickly on training for the sector is important.

“We are very happy to see the huge value being placed on industry training in the reforms. We’ll be continuing our work helping New Zealand businesses grow the skilled people they need, while adapting and transitioning to the new structure.”

Dr Sissons says Primary ITO and many across the primary sector are already working closely with government on the transition to a new Workforce Development Council. She says having strong industry representation on both the CoVE and the Workforce Development Council will be essential to success.

“The primary sector has arguably been the least well-served by the education system of any industry over many years. We have a lot to gain from the reform – and a lot to lose if it is not managed very well and if the employers in our sector are not in the driving seat.”

This month, Primary ITO is hosting industry leaders for a Symposium on the future of primary industry training following the Government’s decisions, Dr Sissons says.

“We’ve consulted with hundreds of industry groups, employers and learners and they are clear that the workplace is the best place for staff to learn.

Primary ITO Board Chair Mark Darrow added: “While the proposed changes are bold and not without risk, we are optimistic this will help make primary sector training more attractive and in turn encourage more people to a career in the sector.

“We know New Zealand will need tens of thousands more skilled workers in farms, orchards, gardens, manufacturing and food processing. We are delighted that Minister Hipkins has focused on the primary sector for the first CoVE.

“This is a one-off opportunity to ensure we do develop those people. A vibrant, innovative food and fibre sector is the big prize. We believe that our sector being the recipient of the first CoVE will send a valued signal that our aspirational vision is shared by government.”

Dr Sissons says despite the structural changes, the Government has been clear that all current training will be supported and that trainees and employers should be reassured that they can enrol and train as usual.

“Our message to trainees and businesses is ‘why would you wait to enrol’? The courses and qualifications aren’t changing and you’ll still be guaranteed to be able to complete them. So waiting for the changes to be implemented is time you could be learning.”