On 1 August 2019, the Honourable Chris Hipkins, Minister of Education, announced the next stage of the Government’s move towards a unified vocational education system.
Among the main changes announced by the Minister on 1 August are plans to:
Create Workforce Development Councils (WDCs): Around four to seven industry-governed bodies, to give industry greater leadership across vocational education.
Establish Regional Skills Leadership Groups (RSLGs): RSLGs would provide advice about the skills needs of their regions to the Tertiary Education Commission, WDCs, and local vocational education providers.
Create a New Zealand Institute of Skills & Technology (the Institute): A unified, sustainable, public network of regionally accessible vocational education, bringing together the existing 16 institutes of technology and polytechnics (ITPs).
The Government says the Reform of Vocational Education will “allow learners to study for qualifications delivered throughout New Zealand, with greater assurance that they meet industry-approved standards, and with high-quality teaching and learning support.”
They have gone on to say these changes cannot be achieved without significant changes to all parts of the existing vocational education sector. This will result in a number of changes for those working within current ITOs.
As the ITO for funeral service, FSTT has contacted the Industry Training Federation re the government policy around the future of ITO's. The ITF will represent our interests at a meeting in Wellington next Wednesday, and strongly point out to government that they are not fully engaging with all ITO's.
This is all coming at a time of significant uncertainty in our own funeral service sector, around the future of funeral service qualifications in New Zealand, and at the same time as FSTT has become aware of some concern being expressed about the position of the current Co-ordinator of the Funeral Services Programmes at WelTec, including speculation that he might not remain with WelTec until the conclusion of the current (2019) Embalming and Funeral Directing Diploma programmes.
Consequently, as the ITO and Advisory Committee to WelTec, FSTT has sought clarification about this, and has received a response from Dr Ruth Anderson (Acting Director of Teaching and Learning), advising that Carmel Haggerty (Head of School - Health & Social Services) has confirmed the Programme Co-ordinator has agreed to a contract to continue teaching the programme until the end of delivery this year. WelTec are just finalising the paperwork to contract the Programme Co-ordinator to teach out the programmes, which he has verbally agreed to do. As soon as this is confirmed, which should be next week, WelTec will formally advise FSTT of the outcome.
Dr Anderson has also assured FSTT that students can have confidence in the delivery and the quality of this for the balance of the year.
We trust this advice will put the rumour mill to rest, and reassure all students, employers, and the wider industry, that, as has been previously advised by WelTec CEO Chris Gosling, the decision of WelTec to discontinue the programmes from the conclusion of the current courses “has no impact on the completion of delivery of the programmes in 2019 or on the ability of those completing this year to graduate with WelTec in 2020.”
Chair – Funeral Service Training Trust of NZ
9 August 2019