Vocational education reforms concerning

The Government has announced significant changes to New Zealand’s Vocational Education sector, which will mean big changes for local polytechs including our own Manukau Institute of Technology.

Under the proposed changes the Manukau Institute of Technology will be merged with the centralised New Zealand Institute of Skills and Training and could lose its local identity and much of its decision making powers.

The Government’s intention is to create a stronger and more resilient system of Vocation Education across New Zealand however there are significant costs and risks associated with these reforms.

While some polytechs have struggled financially recently, many of them have also continued to thrive and maintain significant assets which will be taken from the communities that built them, and siphoned off into the centralised polytech.

These reforms also undermine the industry lead approach to providing skills that businesses need. Whether it be our builders (BCITO), motor apprenticeships (MITO), or hair and beauty training (HITO), skills produced on the job are part of the backbone of our economy.

While National agrees that the vocational sector needs investment and changes to ensure that we are training people with the right skills for our economy, these heavy-handed approaches by the Government aren’t going to work.

The vocational education sector can’t afford a reset of these reforms in a time when we have significant skill shortages as a country – we need to get them right the first time. With the development of a single national skills training institute, where industry training is neglected and the role of private training establishments is not recognised, these reforms will only take us further away from what we need.

Minister Hipkins needs to extend the rushed deadline of implementing these changes by early next year, listen to the concerns the sector is raising, and tell those employed in the industry how many people are set to lose their jobs.

If elected, National will return assets taken by this Government back to local people and return local decision making back to local polytechnics. We appreciate changes need to be made to ensure we have a world-class system, but this lazy centralised approach is not the answer.

Simeon Brown
MP for Pakuranga