Primary ITO responds to Government proposal for the Reform of Vocational Education

12 April 2019

The primary sector is the largest contributor to the New Zealand economy but has the potential to contribute much more value-added growth if government and industry can collaborate effectively to upskill the primary sector’s 350,000-strong workforce.

Primary ITO consulted with 200 firms, industry bodies and local government throughout the primary sector around New Zealand to inform its response to the Government’s Reform of Vocational Education - known as RoVE.

With support from stakeholders, Primary ITO wishes to work constructively with government, to design and execute an industry-led, government-enabled and learner-centred vocational education framework that delivers what industry and the primary sector need into the future. This is a significant generational change opportunity we need to embrace, but plan for carefully.

We strongly advocate that vocational training needs to be led by industry through the proposed Industry Skills Bodies (ISBs), most particularly to retain the brokerage function – this includes matching employees and employers, designing training plans (including pastoral care), negotiating apprenticeship agreements, identifying where literacy and numeracy issues need to be addressed, arranging off-job training with the proposed New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology (NZIST) and school liaison. We see this as critical. 

The current vocational education and training (VET) system has not served the primary sector well. There are a number of problems with the current system that we and our industry stakeholders have experienced that have not been identified within the RoVE consultation documents. Our primary sector stakeholders have much more ambitious objectives of creating a life-long learning eco-system.

Change needs to recognise the unique characteristics of the primary sector through:

  • better recognition in the funding system of the very high costs of primary sector-focused VET – costs that derive from the dispersed rural-based workforce, the inherently expensive nature of training in these fields and the inability to get economies of scale.
  • providing access to training for the many owner/operators in the primary sector.
  • better valuing informal and non-formal learning and short courses.
  • improved provision of literacy, numeracy, ESOL and pastoral support in the VET system.

The unified VET funding system must value and recognise:

  • the complementarity of the provider-based and work-based training pathways.
  • the range of training, including micro-credentials, short courses, just-in-time learning and other non-formal learning.
  • the role that upskilling and reskilling of existing workers plays in maintaining and enhancing the skills of the primary sector workforce.
  • the importance of the brokering role as integral to the work of the ISB and the cost of doing that role well.

The full Primary ITO submission role is available here.