Have Your Say

Reform of Vocational Education Sector

On 13 February 2019 the Government announced a consultation process for the Reform of Vocational Education (RoVE) which proposes fundamental changes to the vocational education sector in New Zealand. These changes would significantly change the way trainees and apprentices are managed and the future role of ITOs.

RoVE Submission

After consultation with Industry, Connexis submitted feedback on the proposed changes to the Vocational Education Sector.

This feedback is now available to view.

Primary Changes

There are three significant changes described.

The first change is that all 16 Polytechnics would be combined to create one organisation called the New Zealand Institute of Skills & Technology (NZIST). NZIST would deliver all vocational learning for New Zealand.

The second change is the disestablishment of Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) and the creation of Industry Skills Bodies (ISBs). ISBs would assume the role of working with industry to create qualifications and maintain standards. The management of trainees would move to the new polytechnic organisation NZIST, wānanga or private training establishments. It is anticipated that ITOs would become ISBs though other organisations may also seek to become ISBs.

The third element highlighted in the RoVE document is a single funding model.  This would include nationally consistent funding rates for on and off job training and ISB funding.  This includes employer contributions to ISBs, and continued employer (and sometimes learner) contributions to training costs paid to NZIST or the alternate wānanga or private training establishment. Details of these funding arrangements are still to be defined as part of future consultation.

Important Dates

The RoVE document and discussions during its presentation indicate:

  • 5th April 2019 – Consultation process with ITOs and industry completed (extended from 27 March). Interim results available here.
  • 1 July 2019 – Government decision
  • 1 January 2020 – Set-up of the NZIST in legislation

Have Your Say

The Government have provided a reasonably short time to allow ITOs to consult with industry to be able to represent industries views on the proposal. It is our intention to consult with industry and industry associations as widely as we can within the six weeks allowed.

 Connexis held a series of meetings to explain the proposal and collect your feedback. We held meetings in the following locations and are working on collating your feedback.

  • Thursday 28th February: Hamilton
  • Friday 1st March: Auckland
  • Monday 4th March: Dunedin
  • Tuesday 5th March: Christchurch
  • Wednesday 6th March: Wellington
  • Friday 8th March: Nelson

The most important influence will be government hearing your voice on behalf of industry.  As such, we encourage you to respond directly to Government on the proposal and/or email us on haveyoursay@connexis.org.nz and we will ensure you voice is heard. ­You can also provide your feedback via online survey (link below).

Alternatively, if you cannot make any of our meetings, you could attend one of the Government’s public consultations. You can find these on the Government website.

Proposed Transition Timing

Once NZIST is created in 2020 there is the challenge of amalgamating 16 Polytechnics into one including maintaining training arrangements for the 110,000 currently within this sector. The next step is to move the 140,000 industry trainees currently being managed by the ITOs.

We would not expect to see impacts on ITO’s until later in 2020, or more likely 2021. The Minister has said there will be a phased approach which would see the first phase starting in 2020 with the establishment of NZIST and transition of Polytechnics. 

For 2019 our Connexis customers and trainees can expect business as usual including enrolment and management of trainees and apprentices and continued management of qualifications, programmes and assessment.

Key Concerns of the Proposal

Should the proposal go ahead we would like to ensure industry do not lose any of the key success factors that you receive in the current industry training system.  It would be great to hear from you on:

ISB (ITO) Loss of ongoing daily Industry contact and feedback

A highly important and too often overlooked part of the ITO role is the daily engagement with learners and employers that gives us insight into the success of programmes and the practical and pragmatic ways in which programmes can be tweaked and improved. Under an ISB model that opportunity for daily contact and ability to iterate a qualification, programme and assessment is lost.

Regional Leadership Groups and Industry Skills Bodies

There is an immediate tension between the role of Regional Leadership Groups supporting the NZIST and the ISB’s themselves.

Regional Leadership Groups are described as advising the NZIST’s national office and TEC on local skills needs. They also ensure strong local Government, industry, community and iwi participation.  There is no mention of any interaction between these Groups and the ISBs – they both act as advisory bodies to TEC.  This makes it unclear as to how industry would be engaged in the programme delivery.


While the proposal introduces a single funding mechanism, and explicitly states that an employer contribution will be sought for both ISB funding and cost of employee training, there is no indication as to how that would be calculated or allocated.

Given this expectation of industry contribution, there needs to be far more clarity around the quantum of contribution, and the manner by which this contribution is recognised.