Vocational education reform Bill introduced

Legislation has been introduced in Parliament today that will create a unified and cohesive vocational education and training system and help New Zealanders prepare for the future of work, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said.

The Vocational Education Reform Bill achieves this by:

  • enabling workforce development councils to be established to give industry greater leadership across vocational education and training
  • establishing the New Zealand Institute of Skills & Technology to provide, arrange and support a range of vocational education and training, including on-the-job, face-to-face and distance delivery
  • providing for a smooth transition of functions and responsibilities from the current to the new system, and
  • establishing a new regulatory framework for vocational education and training.

“Industry-led Workforce development councils will provide skills leadership across the vocational education system. They will set standards and develop qualifications, endorse programmes developed by providers and advise the Tertiary Education Commission about the mix of vocational education and training needed for their respective industries,” Chris Hipkins said.

The Bill will also establish a New Zealand Institute of Skills & Technology to provide, arrange, and support a range of education and training, including in the workplace

All 16 polytechnics and institutes of technology will become part of the Institute, as subsidiary companies initially. The Institute will continue the valuable role that institutes of technology and polytechnics currently have in providing foundation, degree-level and postgraduate-level education.

The Bill includes a charter that will ensure the Institute will be responsive to the needs of all regions of New Zealand, their learners, industries, employers, and communities. It must offer a mix of education and training in each region, including on the job, face to face and distance delivery.

“And it must develop meaningful partnerships with industry, including Māori and Pacific employers, and with communities including hapū, iwi and Pacific communities.

While the changes are significant, learners, staff and employers should be assured that the implementation and transition will be well managed and that we will continue to work with them through this transition process.

The changes will come into force on 1 April 2020. There will be a transition period until 31 December 2022, to ensure continuity for learners and employers and to allow time to build new capacity.

“I encourage learners to enrol as they normally would in 2019 and 2020, including in apprenticeships and other multi-year programmes, and I encourage people in the workplace to keep training and employers to encourage more workers to sign up.

Together, the changes introduced through this Bill will create a unified and cohesive system of vocational education and training, which will better serve our economy and all New Zealanders,” Chris Hipkins said.

“The select committee process will be a good opportunity to consider potential refinements to the legislation and the charter.”

The Bill is here.