Vocational training needs to change with the times

02 Mar 2018


For a number of years, vocational training in New Zealand has not worked well for our industry. 

The prime reason for this is how this training is funded by the Government. The current model creates a competitive tangle of providers, and can sometimes place more focus on securing the funding than the actual delivery of the training. This model also creates silos, when in fact there should be a pathways from school to university for learners of all skill levels. 

In light of this, the Government’s full review of this system is both welcome and timely. 

From an industry perspective, there are five key submissions on this review:

- Structural change is needed: The new funding model should not be tied to training institutions, be they secondary schools, industry training organisations, or universities. Funding should instead be tied to the type of training that is being offered, and move with the student as they progress.

- Focus on what the student needs: This review needs to include all training organisations, starting with secondary schools, including private trainers, and finishing with universities. The focus needs to be on the student’s needs and how those can be best served, both in terms of training offered and support given until completion is achieved.

-Listen to industry:  Industry needs to have full input into the review and a pivotal role in the delivery of the training. This is so the training fits industry needs, and will mean that the student is more likely to have a job when the training is completed; education leading to unemployment should not be Government funded.

- Cater for future training needs: What we’ve trained for before will not be good enough in the future; a new age is approaching rapidly. Industry is using robotics and artificial intelligence, and needs people trained to build and maintain these robots. We need workers and managers to have abilities beyond basic core skills.

-New training models are needed: Much of our training is currently delivered like a sermon from the pulpit; I’m not sure anyone has ever learned much that way. We now live in a digital age; and people want to do their training when it suits their lifestyle and work commitments, whether that’s at night, on the weekend, on a laptop, or on their smart phone. So how training is delivered also has to change. Out of this comes the realisation that putting more money into buildings may be better invested into new ways of training people.

As with most reviews, those who are involved in it are the ones conducting the review; sometimes nothing changes, except for a re-organisation of the deck chairs as vocational training sinks. 

Let’s have fresh eyes, bring in some of the people who are to be trained, and have comprehensive industry input. We need radical change, not more of the same; after all, the horse didn’t design the motor car.

- Mike Chapman, CEO