ITOs to lose control of on-the-job training when apprenticeships are at record highs

Today the Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO) expressed disappointment that the Government’s long-awaited decision on the Reform of Vocational Education removes industry control for on-job learning, placing the responsibility with a new centrally run institution.

BCITO Chief Executive, Warwick Quinn says “Our enrolments have steadily increased over the past five years to where we now have nearly 13,000 construction apprentices learning on the job. The sector was very clear in its view that the status quo was performing well and should be maintained. They are concerned the reforms have the potential to undermine the confidence of construction employers and apprentices at a time when construction is booming, and skills are more critical than ever.”

Quinn is pleased that the Minister had taken on sector industry views on how to manage the transition. We cannot afford to throw the baby out with the bathwater and get this wrong. The last thing anybody wants is to look back in five years and wonder what happened to all the apprentices.” 

“We are happy to see BCITO’s recommendations around minimising the risk when transitioning to the new model have been taken on board. 

“Any change must be done in a way that minimises disruption to employers and apprentices. This means the Government needed to be bolder in some areas.”

BCITO’s advice included having fewer Workforce Development Councils (WDCs) to ensure greater capability and wide sector coverage. This will provide higher quality workforce planning and brokerage. The Government has signalled that five to seven WDCs are envisaged based on the six vocational pathways when previously there was no limit.  

Advice also included the creation of interim agencies relating to on-job learning to allow the new single New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology (NZIST) sufficient time to get established and operational, which the Minister has also agreed with.

Quinn says it is prudent to give both the WDCs and NZIST time to build the capacity and capability they need to operate under the new arrangement. Having transitional agencies ensures stability in the system until apprentices can be safely moved to the NZITS, so employers and learners have a seamless experience. 

“Our main focus now is on supporting our staff, apprentices and employers through these changes. We must ensure employers and apprentices encounter no disruption, and the only thing they notice is a change of the branding on the shirt from the person coming to visit them. 

“There is still a lot of detail to work through to get to this point, and the Government needs to get on with it and put the building blocks in place,” says Quinn. “We are looking forward to working proactively with the Government to ensure a smooth transition. 

“It is essential employers, and apprentices understand it is business as usual, and they should not hold off entering into an apprenticeship for fear of not completing or what the changes might mean. 

“We need just as many skills in construction today as we did yesterday and we will continue to do everything we can to address the shortfall,” says Quinn.   

Today’s announcement effectively confirmed what was contained in the original consultation document which sees the establishment of a single institute created from a merger of the country’s 16 Institutes of Technologies and Polytechs (the NZIST).

The NZIST will undertake both off-job, or classroom-based learning as well as on-job learning which Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) are currently responsible for. ITOs have some 140,000 trainees and apprentices, and these will eventually be picked up by the NZIST. 

ITOs will be replaced by Workforce Development Councils (WDC) that will be responsible for the development of qualifications, moderation, workforce planning, oversight of training providers and brokerage. 


For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Aimie Hines, Acumen Republic on behalf of BCITO
04 494 5146 or 022 637 8206

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