Time for Te Pūkenga to live its Charter.

By Kaiwhakahaere | Organiser Daniel Benson-Guiu

For TEU members, the Reform of Vocational Education (RoVE) has begun to sour.

The intent of the reforms still has validity in bringing together the two sides of the vocational education coin: on-job and on-campus training, supplemented with online delivery. It feels like the leadership of Te Pūkenga flipped the coin and when it landed on tails, the tail began to wag the dog.

Let me explain, the tail is industry, which has benefitted hugely through extensions and expansions of apprenticeship training at the expense of on-campus provision. Peter Winder has commented on numerous occasions that it is more worthwhile for students to train in industry, as has the Prime Minister. It doesn’t need to be this way.

As a union, we have advocated strongly for the importance of both sides of the coin. Heads represents community. The Institute of Technologies and Polytechnics (ITPs) that have moved into Te Pūkenga have focused on education that brings in students from a breadth of backgrounds from the certificate level to postgraduate qualifications. Our polytechnics have been closely connected to local rūnanga, to our migrant communities, and yes also with industry.

The leadership of Te Pūkenga has lost focus on the big picture, and it is failing to follow the Charter – which we fought hard for as a Union – which sets out the responsibilities of Te Pūkenga. The Charter says a lot in one page, yet many of our members are unfamiliar with it.

The Charter sets a vision for vocational education whereby Te Pūkenga “will be responsive to the needs of all regions of New Zealand, their learners, industries, employers, and communities.” It sets a clear relationship with Iwi Māori and Hāpu, with Pacific communities and a focus on industry across the country including “smaller employers, and those operating in niche sectors.”

Did you know that the Charter gives priority to second chance learners? And it gives equal importance to training whether on-job, on-campus, or online.

The Charter stipulates that Te Pūkenga should “empower students and staff,” and also “promote equitable access to learning opportunities for learners across all regions.”

If we want to see a vision of vocational education where “learning pathways provide learners with a range of opportunities to progress to higher levels of education and training, and also into employment,” we don’t need to go far. The Charter outlines how Te Pūkenga should operate: for our communities, for learners, for industry, for staff. It’s time to familiarise ourselves with the Charter so when we respond to decisions we can emphasise that the Charter speaks to the vocational education sector that we want to see.