Major changes for Polytechnics proposed by Government

Polytechnics around the country have been struggling financially for some time. In response the Government is proposing all sixteen Polytechnics be merged into one ‘entity’ called the New Zealand Institute of Skills & Technology (even the acronym NZIST or NZIOSAT will not be particularly catchy).

Public consultation on the proposed will run to 27th March, so this looks like a rush job, particularly compared to a lot of long drawn out inquiries and working groups.

I can’t see the changes signalled in Labour’s 2017 election manifesto, and it is not mentioned in either governing agreement with NZ First or the Greens.

Beehive: A new future for work skills training in NZ

Education Minister Chris Hipkins today released wide-ranging proposals for strengthening vocational education so that school leavers get high quality training opportunities, employers get the skills they need and New Zealanders are better equipped for the changing nature of work.

“Instead of our institutes of technology retrenching, cutting programmes, and closing campuses, we need them to expand their course delivery in more locations around the country.

“It’s time to reset the whole system and fundamentally rethink the way we view vocational education and training, and how it’s delivered.

“The Coalition Government proposes to establish a unified, coordinated, national system of vocational education and training. The proposals are:

  • Redefined roles for education providers and industry bodies (Industry Training Organisations (ITOs)) to extend the leadership role of industry and employers;
  • Bringing together the 16 existing ITPs as a one entity with the working title of the New Zealand Institute of Skills & Technology with a robust regional network of provision; and
  • A unified vocational education funding system.

“We would also ensure there’s strong regional influence in the New Zealand Institute of Skills & Technology through the proposed formation of Regional Leadership Groups which would identify the needs of the local economy and become a key link between local government, employers, iwi and communities.

“The development of courses and programmes would be consolidated, improving consistency and freeing up resources to expand front-line delivery. There will be more sharing of expertise and best-practice, and more use of online, distance, and blended learning.

“The Government envisages that the New Zealand Institute of Skills & Technology, and perhaps also wānanga, host Centres of Vocational Excellence (CoVEs). These power houses of expertise could cover key sectors and industries, which could be broad (eg, agriculture) or specific (eg, viticulture).

“What we are proposing is ambitious, but it needs to be. We cannot continue to tweak the system knowing that the model is fundamentally broken, and isn’t delivering our workforce the skills that they need to thrive.

“The proposals released today may go ahead in this or another form, but the Government won’t make any decisions until we have heard and carefully considered feedback from this consultation process,” Chris Hipkins said.

Public consultation is open until 27 March.

Six weeks seems a short timeframe for consultation on such major changes. .

It has been reported that the intention is to have these changes up and running by the end of the year.

Hipkins seems to be one of the better ministers for providing information available.

The decision making documents are dated from 28 March 2018, showing that changes have been considered for at least a year, probably initiated just after Hipkins took over as Minister of Education.

There was no mention of reform of Polytechnics in either the Labour-NZ First coalition agreement or the Labour-Green confidence and supply agreement.

There is no mention of it in Labour’s Vision for Education, their 2017 campaign policy document.

From Labour’s Education Manifesto:

Strong Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics

Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs) are a crucial element of New Zealand’s tertiary education system. They play a key role in ensuring that the workforce has the skills and training to drive innovation and to ensure labour market needs are met. They are important for regional development, and serve as economic ‘anchors’ for the communities they serve.

  • Labour will ensure that there is a strong network of regional public institutions dedicated to meeting the labour market and skill needs of our regions.
  • Labour will establish Centres of Vocational Excellence (CoVEs) to be based at Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics to provide a focus for driving excellence in training, research and innovation in a particular industry
  • Labour will improve the way that ITPs and ITOs work together including through joint curriculum development, clearer qualifications and more flexible learning pathways.

I can’t see any reference in the rest of the manifesto for centralising administration of the Polytechnics.

They emphasise “Labour will ensure that there is a strong network of regional public institutions”.

It will be interesting to see how they achieve this by merging 16 regional providers into one centralised body – I presume centralised in Wellington or Auckland.

Leave a comment

32 Comments

  1. David

     /  14th February 2019

    At the moment the good ones thrive which in the normal world is a good thing and delivers the best outcome for the consumers. The poor ones fail, again a good thing but they should be allowed to die.
    Labour have a poor record in funding students heavily, probably for votes, and starving the institutions, Labour have a similar approach with schools where the teachers are vastly overpaid and there is little money left for student resources.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  14th February 2019

      teachers vastly overpaid ?
      really? the current contract was negotiated under national , for last 9 years( who couldnt even come up with a working payroll) and they are going on strike for more under the new contract.

      Reply
  2. ODT: Scepticism at polytech plans

    Otago Polytechnic chief executive Phil Ker says he would be ”extraordinarily disappointed” if the institution was reduced to being a branch office of a national organisation under government plans.

    https://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/campus/otago-polytechnic/scepticism-polytech-plans

    Reply
  3. Duker

     /  14th February 2019

    Not mentioned in the story is the $100m bail out last year for polytechs and maybe the same again this year ?
    Something the polytechs are doing isnt working

    Reply
  4. PartisanZ

     /  14th February 2019

    Just in the nick of time for major changes in student demographic and/or numbers maybe?

    E.g., fewer overseas students, unbearable pressure for younger NZ trades and industry students rather than older Kiwi workers made redundant, unemployed or Precariat by neoliberalism …

    Adjust vocational education to suit … Adjust it back in the direction of what it was before.

    Some years overdue I’d say.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  14th February 2019

      Yes, I reckon they should give this a crack. There are several ideas in there that could be of benefit to regions experiencing trade shortages as it has a definite regional, and local business & industry focus.

      As always the devil will be in the detail and the close management of institutional budgets.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  15th February 2019

        NZIST could be pron. enz-ist.

        It really needs to be an acronym, not an initialism (I can’t believe how many people think that something like VUW is an acronym when by definition an acronym must be able to be pronounced as a word)

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  15th February 2019

          If they have the wit to call it Skills And Technology Institute New Zealand they get an easily memorable acronym, SATINZ.

          Reply
  5. Mother

     /  14th February 2019

    Youth training for trades should be doing so from 14 years.

    There is a easier and cost effective way to do our education system.

    One good thing Polytechnics have done is to help along the attitude that education is for life.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  15th February 2019

      They do some great trade training in schools; some even build houses. You should have seen the cabinetmaking results at the school where I taught. One girl had a small bedroom and had made herself a triangular desk. It and the other pieces were professional standard.

      Reply
  6. Finbaar Rustle

     /  14th February 2019

    Since the ’70’s technology has reduced the walk into jobs with no skills by 95%.
    Up skilling has been the promised panacea by all Govt’s since 75.
    Now Labour/NZF is spinning the 2019 “education guarantees jobs mantra” Mark 12.
    Immigrants say they are discriminated against in the job market
    while Kiwi born say immigrants get the jobs
    Some are told they are under skilled while others are told they are over qualified.
    Old people say the young get the jobs the young say the old people hog the jobs.
    Women blame men while men blame women.
    White people blame the browns while browns blame the whites.
    The politicians and the media have jobs to cultivate, inflame and
    assuage the employment prejudices of their target audiences.
    Every one blames every one else but never them selves.
    Paradoxically the unemployment/education department is a huge employer
    with thousands training people for jobs they can’t find themselves.
    In ’75 Rob Muldoon promised “jobs for you, your children and their children”.
    So where are the jobs Rob?
    45 years of Politicians spinning the same myth about up skilling = jobs.
    Rob’s mob 🙂
    She’ll be right sheeples.

    Reply
  7. Finbaar Rustle

     /  14th February 2019

    My experience of people who say ” My experience is that people who say “sheeples” are mostly conspiracy nuts” is that they are paranoid and have no answer to my brilliant comments.

    Reply
    • Mother

       /  14th February 2019

      Mr Rustle sounds a lot like Mr Guyton.

      Reply
      • Finbaar Rustle

         /  15th February 2019

        Mr Guyton is a much loved and respected commentator so I am honoured to share the stage with Robert as I am honoured to share the stage with you Mother.

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  15th February 2019

          You take the Grand Pooh Bah award for the most lies in a single sentence. Congratulations.

          Reply
          • Finbaar Rustle

             /  15th February 2019

            Thanks old bean always jolly collecting awards.
            The RGA and the GPB in one day.
            I am becoming ever so famous.
            I am leading the race for best YourNZ commentator 2019.

            Reply
    • Gezza

       /  14th February 2019

      Oh. How many people have you encountered who say that, out of interest?
      Do you get that comment a lot? 😳

      Reply
      • Finbaar Rustle

         /  15th February 2019

        Oh at least 5,000.

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  15th February 2019

          Typo for .5000 ?

          Sheeples is old, tired and totally unoriginal and is used by people who can’t think of anything original.

          Reply
  8. Industry training organisations say students will suffer under polytech merger

    While the union for polytechnic staff is backing the government’s plan to merge polytechnics and institutes of technology, industry training organisations say students and apprentices will suffer.

    https://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/382419/industry-training-organisations-say-students-will-suffer-under-polytech-merger

    Reply
  9. Officials warned government against mega-polytech merger

    Officials last year warned the government not to merge the 16 polytechnics into a single institute, briefing papers show.

    https://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/382501/officials-warned-government-against-mega-polytech-merger

    Reply
  10. Alan Wilkinson

     /  14th February 2019

    Usual Labour crap driven by unions ignoring employers, centralise everything.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  15th February 2019

      You will find the staff unions not in favour of centralising admin functions

      Reply
  11. Fight4NZ

     /  14th February 2019

    The 1 time gold standard for apprenticeships and trades training was the ATI, now known as Unitec. But that has been allowed to degenerate to a basket case where board and management have spent the last 15 years obsessing about property development of the grounds while ignoring the actual functions of the institution. They have spent countless dollars and hours on proposals and legal proceedings which all failed. Meanwhile staff morale has been butchered by endless retrenchment along with their reputation and disconnect with industry and trades. Basic maintenance not even run properly, eg in the middle of Auckland city they have a rabbit infestation. But instead of the clowns being hung on their own results, Kiwibuild has come along to bulldoze through their development dreams. Jacinda, so in touch with her adopted electorate. Wasn’t this supposed to the new age where political expedience was no longer the primary factor?

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  15th February 2019

      ATI are not known as Unitech….check your details. Not much else of your story seems to be true either.
      I could rattle of Unitecs real problems , but when they have a large park like campus …on an old lava field of course you will have rabbit problems, one tree Hill is the same

      Reply
  12. patu

     /  14th February 2019

    Heard an interesting discussion about this on RNZ this morning. Personally, as someone who has attained trade cert, I think that industry training is best left to those who are familiar with the industry involved. Whilst my tutors at polytech were very competent at what they did, they gave general tuition of the skills that the several different areas of my trade had in common, and were far too busy to deal with every students employer, which is where the ITO guy came in. He helped all of us to focus on what each of us needed to know, & told us how to gain credits in what we didn’t.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  15th February 2019

      That’s because the ITO doesn’t do any course work training….and the polytech doesn’t give career advice.
      This seems to be one of the problems joining up will resolve…hopefully

      Reply
  1. Major changes for Polytechnics proposed by Government — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition

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