FSTT: Embracing future of industry training
Published in Funeralcare magazine, September 2019
By Kay Paku, trustee, Funeral Service Training Trust
“Check with us first” is the message from FSTT Chair John Schipper to the industry. The rumour mill has been working overtime with regard to the future delivery of our diploma programmes. You can be assured that we represent everyone in the industry – from individuals to companies – regardless of their professional affiliations. As the owners of the qualifications, we are committed to ensuring that both programmes are developed and delivered to the highest possible standards.”
The Funeral Service Training Trust of New Zealand (FSTT) is the Industry Training Organisation (ITO) for the funeral industry. It was among the first to be accredited when ITOs were created in the early 1990’s. They have an ongoing responsibility to implement and review current and future training modules and programmes that reflect and meet the demands of industry and society.
FSTT runs seminars and awards Training Hour Credits for people to maintain practising certificates in funeral directing and embalming. Its primary responsibility is to oversee the national qualifications in Funeral Service, by registering unit standards on the national framework and by arranging the delivery of the qualifications.
WelTec’s recent announcement that they would not be delivering the qualifications from 2020 comes amid widely publicised financial problems, and Education Minister Chris Hipkins’ review of vocational education.
WelTec’s decision has been strongly influenced by current vocational education and training reforms focusing on “pathway” programmes – those that lead to improved employment opportunities. This leaves the funeral profession – together with those offering apprenticeships – in an invidious position because our students must already be employed in order to safely enter into our programmes.
The next stage of the Government’s move toward a unified vocational education system was announced on 1 August 2019. Among the main changes 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): These would provide advice about the skills needs of their regions to the Tertiary Education Commission, WDCs, and local vocational education providers.
· Create the New Zealand Institute of Skills & Technology (NZIST): 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 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 that 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.
FSTT, as the ITO for funeral service, has contacted the Industry Training Federation (ITF) regarding the Government’s policy around the future of ITO's. The ITF represented our interests at a meeting in Wellington in August, strongly pointing out to the Government that they are not fully engaging with all ITOs.
Last month, the FSTT Board met with representatives from the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) and the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) for advice on how to proceed in the light of the vocational education review and the need to identify a new provider. All parties stressed that this is a process that will take some time to develop, and that calling for submissions from future providers is some considerable distance away.
Of immediate concern are unsettling rumours around students’ ability to complete their current programmes of study.
WelTec have assured FSTT that current students will complete their programme of study and qualify to graduate at its conclusion. As a precaution, however, FSTT has developed a contingency plan should WelTec’s staffing troubles come to fruition.
It is essential FSTT takes the time to continue the current review of both qualifications and their delivery. This includes, but is not limited to, looking at whether the current course credits are adequate, revising course content, and looking into concerns around supervision and programme entry criteria.
FSTT is committed to taking the next year to redevelop the courses and select a new provider to deliver the diploma programmes in 2021.
John Schipper: “We have not, and will not, be selecting a provider until the qualification and delivery reviews we are currently engaged in have been completed, and a comprehensive memorandum of understanding has been developed. This will involve extensive consultation with you, our stakeholders.”