ITO Federation Conference

  • Brian Donnelly

[Greetings] Chairman Stephen Wickens, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for the opportunity to
open your Federation's second AGM and conference.

Today I have come to praise the Industry Training Organisations.

Your achievements since you first started to come into being have been nothing less than amazing.

The 52 ITOs have the potential to reach three quarters of the workforce.

Last year the number of people in industry training climbed to almost 27,500 - 40% more than in
December 1995 and an increase of 85% since the lowest point in June 1993.

By the end of this year, it is expected that there will be 45,000 people in training under ITOs.

That is an increase of 63% in just one year.

That is a fantastic achievement.

Thirty one ITOs are delivering training arrangements in their industries, including several that
previously had little or no formal training arrangements.

Twenty eight of them purchased training from the Industry Training Fund last year, with 42
expected to be purchasing by the end of this year.

Nine of these ITOs have arranged training for some 21,000 trainees.

Twenty nine ITOs are accredited by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority to register

There are 8,341 unit standards and 247 qualifications registered.

Eighty percent of schools - 362 - are now accredited by NZQA to deliver training on the NQF.

Within that record of success, there are individual successes.

For instance, the Forestry industry has extended formal training into the processing sector, Motor
into forecourt and retail operations, and Electro-technology into electronic manufacturing and
security systems.

The number of M„ori in training programmes is relatively high, compared to total workforce.

Twelve percent of the employees in training programmes are M„ori, compared to 8.6% in the total

This is considerably better than the number of M„ori in training under the old apprenticeship

All in all, those are very impressive achievements for under five years.

But, what was it that allowed this to happen?

We have to give much of the credit, I believe, to Lockwood Smith.

It's fair to say that he was not the most popular Minister of Education amongst those in the sector.

However, he deserves to go down in our educational history for his articulation of a fundamental
change in the basis of our educational - and training - framework with his notion of a seamless

In this concept he laid the foundation of a national 'learning culture' in which school is seen as the
first step in a lifelong journey.

It is a voyage upon which industry, employees and educationists must share cabins if that 'learning
culture' is to become a fundamental of our national culture.

However, one thing I can see standing in the way of developing this partnership is the traditional
split between education and training.

I believe this dichotomy is a flawed one for the world we live in.

It is based upon assumptions of a past world that we need to seriously question.

If we define education as the development of skills, knowledge and understandings that enable
each individual to participate as fully as possible in his or her society, to contribute as fully as
possible to the well-being of that society and to derive as much personal benefit as possible from
that society, then we must surely question our preconceived notions of what education is.

If we further concede that employment is a significant part of the lives of the vast majority of all
New Zealanders, then we are left with no other conclusion that education and training are part of
the same whole.

We have tended in the past to have a very elitist perspective on education.

This largely goes back to the British civil service, which took people with a classical academic
education, while work-based education was guild- or apprenticeship-based.

We have now reached a position where education and training have been 'universalised', that is,
open to everyone.

This means we have to redefine what we mean by 'education'.

If we think of education in terms of developing the individual to take their full place in society, then
we immediately have a broader definition, which takes us in the direction of 'training'.

One would almost have to question the naming of ETSA, which reinforces that dichotomy -
education and training.

During the mid-1980s I had a scholarship to the USA and Canada to study the use of computers in

At that time there was a national Adopt-A-School programme being promoted.

Businesses were being encouraged to establish partnerships with schools.

When I returned I wrote to a very prominent businessman.

He wrote back saying that he thought it was terribly dangerous for businesses to get involved with

Fortunately, attitudes have changed!

I want to reassure both sides, though.

When I talk to people from the training side of things about this, they think I am making a pitch for
educationists to take over training.

When I talk to educationists, they think I am saying that training organisations should take over

I'm saying neither.

George Bernard Shaw once said that education was too important to be left solely to educationists.

It would be socially tragic to define the purpose of education purely in vocational terms.

And it would be equally as debilitating for society not to recognise the close relationship between
education and employment.

You have probably worked out by now that I reject the split into separate entities of education and
training because it makes no sense for the present or the future.

In education, things no longer fit into little boxes.

Designing an educational system to meet all the competing demands is increasingly challenging but
not over-daunting.

As a nation we are facing up to these challenges.

Under the 'Skill New Zealand Strategy', industries, enterprises and professions are building on
existing training programmes and creating new training to match changing technology and
socio-economic change.

One of the main features of this initiative, other than yourselves, is the National Qualifications

Wyatt Creech paused the implementation of the NQF last year to allow us to consider - in some
aspects, reconsider - qualifications at both the technical and policy levels.

Qualifications are the means people use to win recognition for the skills and the knowledge they
have gained.

Qualifications should be durable and credible to students and employers.

A qualifications system to meet the needs of the 21st Century must try to provide an opportunity
for all to emerge from school with a qualification that will set them up so they have a good basis to
earn a living and contribute to New Zealand.

To offer real opportunity, we need a system with a wide range of subjects and many levels.

We also need a system that can be built on over a lifetime - where qualifications are portable
between education providers and what is learned in one place - for instance, school - complements
and can be added to at another - such as polytech.

Who sets the content of qualifications is largely an unspoken issue in this debate.

Our industry training policy supports an industry-led strategy.

Many in industry feared that allowing provider qualifications would be a reversion to the system
prior to the development of the industry-led strategy.

It is important in any further development of the policy that the Government keeps industry
involved so that the skills the ITOs deliver to the trainee or student are the skills industry needs.

We owe it to all young New Zealanders to put in place a system that is durable, well thought
through, and has widespread acceptance and credibility amongst students, parents and the teaching

Next week the Government will be releasing a green paper, which puts our thinking on the
qualifications policy.

I know this was originally supposed to be released in January or February.

However, the green paper is all the better for being delayed.

This paper will canvass the whole range of qualifications issues.

Unfortunately, the way the framework has been moving, we are facing the prospect of it splitting,
or several frameworks developing.

To allow that to happen would be intolerable and defeat the whole purpose of a national

The Government needs to reaffirm the purpose of the National Qualifications Framework and get
rid of confusion and uncertainty.

ITOs are already aware of the intention to recommend an inclusive approach in the green paper.

Current thinking indicates that the NQF registration criteria should not be used to decide in favour
of one assessment practice over another.

Rather, the criteria should serve to test that, whatever practice is used, the assessment technique
fits the learning objectives.

The key element is 'quality'.

However, quality must be evaluated in ways that are not unduly cumbersome or costly.

We have already agreed that development needs to proceed in ways that minimise compliance
costs, and a priority is that development should not be unnecessarily disruptive or onerous.

Proposals in the green paper will be up for discussion.

And I stress that, while this is the Government's current thinking on the issue, we are going into this
process with an open mind and will carefully consider the submissions before we make our final

Then a white paper, which will contain our final policy decisions, will follow the analysis of

It is essential that ITOs participate in this process of consultation.

As I have said, education is too important to be left solely to educationists.

Without your input into this 'green paper/white paper' process, final decisions will not be as sound
as they need to be to move our nation into the future.

The National Qualifications Framework is the foundation for linking industry with schools and
extending systematic training into industries that do not have formal training systems.

The concept of Industry Training Organisations is indisputably the right one.

However, the devil is in the detail.

You may have picked up that I am a strong advocate of industries being involved in the design of
the educational programmes geared to meet developing needs.

This partnership is of unquestionable value and we need to continue to pursue mechanisms that will
enhance this partnership.

Regardless of the obvious recognition by Government that the links between education and
employment need to be closer and more meaningful, employers cannot expect that employees will
come to them perfectly equipped to do just what their business needs.

To expect that would mean that every business in the same field of enterprise would be exactly the

The very nature of business means that is not true.

The Government can only ensure certain industry generic skills, which overlay other generic skills
that cross over industries, which in turn overlay work attitudes that are essentially taught at home.

It is still the responsibility of each employer to ensure that the particular trademark skills required
for that business are transmitted to its employees.

Obviously this is easier for a firm when their industry is served by an ITO.

A company that has successfully used an ITO and the National Qualifications Framework across
the whole firm is Summit Wool Spinners in Oamaru.

Some of the company's management had been involved in writing unit standards for the Apparel
and Textile ITO.

Summit also had a quality education programme and ISO 9000 in place, so unit standards seemed
like a natural progression.

The company found that changing to training and assessment based on unit standards poked huge
holes in its existing training methods.

They had been showing people how to do a job, but not why they were doing it.

The new standards and performance criteria suddenly made this quite clear.

Staff really took to the new training system.

Their confidence grew as they finally gained recognition for skills they had developed on the job.

Many of these people had never been able to pass an exam at school, but were able to gain
National Certificates through the unit standard assessment system.

Summit hoped that 75% of staff would take part. In fact, 96% hooked into the Framework,
despite it being voluntary.

Staff actually wanted to be assessed.

All new staff will be linked up to the Framework and trained against standards as soon as they

Summit also wants to work with schools and local providers to ensure that future recruits arrive at
the company with elementary unit standards under their belt.

Imagine if every industry was able to emulate that success!

Tradenz continuously reminds us that New Zealand needs more wealth creators.

A decade after the New Zealand Technology Advancement Trust's Certech reports, Tradenz tells
us that we have only made satisfactory progress in two areas.

According to Tradenz, we are on track with making progress on the numbers of students leaving
school without qualifications at 15, and on our participation rate in tertiary education.

They say we have made a start on the number of trades with formal training structures and on the
relationship between education and business.

However, we are worse off in the numbers of graduates in technology, applied science and
engineering, and the numbers of teachers qualified in maths and science.

Our economy has the opportunity over the coming decade to change even more than it has.

However, we do not have the skills mix needed to maximise the opportunities that this change will

We are making a strong start at the industry level with the tremendous work the ITOs are doing,
although there is still more to do.

Economically New Zealand has two natural advantages. The first is its land and its climate.

Few nations have the geographic advantages for growing products relative to the size of its
population that New Zealand has.

The other advantage is a highly literate, resourceful and creative people.

It is in developing this latter resource that we must work together to ensure that the advantage is