The government should ensure a network of regional provision, support a diverse range of learners and facilitate work-based learning, according to a paper published by the Ministry of Education.
The paper sets out the scope and process for a review the vocational education training (VET) sector, which Education Minister, Chris Hipkins committed to in his recent Education Work Plan.
Confusingly, this review is running in parallel to the Institute of Technology and Polytechnic (ITP) roadmap project spearheaded by the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC).
In a recent letter to the Tertiary Education Union (TEU), the TEC said the government’s VET review will consider what policy and funding frameworks are required to deliver a successful vocational system, whereas the ITP roadmap would look at what kind of network of provision is needed across New Zealand. This, the TEC said, could be done without knowing the details of a future funding regime.
It appears from this that the TEC wants to press ahead with reshaping the ITP sector so it fits better with the broader goals of vocational education which, bizarrely, have not yet been defined because the Ministry’s review has not even started.
The letter was sent the same week Education Minister Chris Hipkins published a Cabinet paper outlining next steps for the ITP roadmap project. In it, the Minister says employment conditions are a barrier to the success of ITPs, which suggests, contrary to their letter, that the TEC plans to look at much more than just the network of provision needed.
Ministry officials have proposed four themes for the broader VET review: a strong network of provision for all regions; work-based learning that adapts to a variety of needs; a system that is effective for diverse learners; and a system that supports, and is supported by, industry.
The first two of these themes appear to be the focus of the review, whereas the second two are not developed in detail.