FSTT Update

The Trust continues to wind down without any discernible reduction in workload. However, the end is tantalisingly in sight for us, with our available funds expected to run out before we get to the end of our to-do list. It looks like March will be our concert swansong. Hide the karaoke.

 

Diploma in Funeral Directing

The final two courses of the Diploma in Funeral Directing, FST507 Directing a Funeral Service and FST508 Co-ordinating Post-Funeral Activities, were published at the end of October and the programme continues to attract a steady number of enrolments. It was a huge privilege to be involved in the planning and writing of this programme of study, together with my FSTT colleagues Mike Wolffram and Mark Baker.

 

The move away from trimesterised delivery to block enrolment will better support students working at their own pace, which is a huge advantage of the online delivery mechanism.

 

Diploma in Embalming

Trustees were blindsided in July by the Open Polytechnic’s announcement that they could no longer commit resources to the development of the Diploma in Embalming. With the launch of Te Pukenga - the amalgamation of sixteen polytechnics and technical institutes into one Crown entity - it would appear that “abundant caution is being exercised over the development of new programmes due to a weakened financial climate”. Development of the embalming programme is no longer “economically viable”.

 

Thankfully for us all, there are still training enterprises not affected by the extensive restructuring of tertiary education, and these PTE’s have been keen to pull a chair up to the table. To this end, FSTT is working with NZEA to progress the development of the embalming qualification with a new provider. Watch this space.

 

The Future of THC’s

With the Trust set to disappear in the not-too-distant future, we have consulted with the Funeral Directors Association and NZEA over the future of the Training Hour Credit (THC) programme administered by FSTT.

 

The 2019 precedent set by the Funeral Directors Association to approve some of their own THC’s represents a sidestep around the application of industry-agreed standards, with the result that those standards are no longer clearly mandated. It is expected therefore that each organisation will come up with a system to manage their own THC’s.

 

Ownership of the Qualifications

Transfer of our two qualifications to the new Workforce Development Council is not mandatory as it has been for transitional ITO’s. However, given the pending dissolution of the Trust, it was decided to voluntarily transfer both qualifications to Toitū te Waiora. This was completed in September.

 

Discussion with the Toitū te Waiora Workforce Development Council around transfer of the qualifications was useful in revealing what functions they would not be taking over from FSTT – qualification development being one example - as well as their expectation of engaging with a single educational body representing the whole industry going forward.

 

FSTT Mk II

That single industry body will need to pick up FSTT’s to-do list. Preliminary indications from the Funeral Directors Association following consultation with its members has expressed a lack of appetite for the funding model for FSTT. Further questioning reveals what we should have realised: that the proposal FSTT put forward for a more equitable fee structure to fund its existence never made it out to its subscribers. Because, believe it or not, the subscriber database was not ours to control.

 

However, that’s history. What remains to be decided is how a new industry education body should be funded, and what its makeup should be. Each of the current trustees, representing the Funeral Directors Association, NZEA, NZIFH, Education and Māori have indicated their willingness to continue in their voluntary roles as long as they may be needed.

 

The shape of the body that oversees industry education, as it has been throughout the history of the various forms of the Funeral Service Training Trust, is up to you. It is a ball that is very much in your court. You have around three months to decide what the game is, and how it will be played.

Kay Paku

November 2022