Calls for Govt to reconsider approach to automotive training

In News4 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineDecember 8, 2023

The Motor Trade Association is calling on the Government to restore an industry-led approach to automotive training.

MTA has put forward a proposal to Penny Simmonds, Minister for Tertiary Education and Skills, outlining the need to decentralise vocational education for the automotive sector from Te Pūkenga, and recommends an ‘of the industry, for the industry’ approach.

The proposal is endorsed in an accompanying letter by representatives of eight industry groups including Motor Industry Association, Imported Motor Vehicle Industry Association, Tractor and Machinery Association, Collision Repair Association, NZ Auto Electrical Group, Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand, Rental Vehicle Association.

As of today, the organisation that was formerly MITO still exists within Te Pūkenga, but in the coming months it finally gets dismantled and consumed into the overarching organisation.

MTA chief executive Lee Marshall said the Government must halt the upcoming structural changes immediately, before further damage is done to what was previously a well performing vocational training body.

“Businesses, more than bureaucrats, understand the needs of their sector and the definitions of success,” he said.

Key points in the proposal put to Government include:

  • A new independent track for the automotive industry training organisation, which provides training for 89% of the country’s automotive apprentices
  • An immediate pause on structural reform affecting industry training functions within Te Pūkenga, particularly those with a track record of producing high performing graduates, including MITO
  • Restore an updated industry-led approach, with a leadership structure that is based on industry and/or sectors, as opposed to an arbitrary regional segmentation
  • The short-term revitalisation of functionality of the former MITO, including standards creation, would enable it to work directly with NZQA to have new qualifications listed on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework and training programmes approved
  • MTA is arguing for a revitalisation of the industry-led approach based on the now repealed Industry Training and Apprenticeship Act 1992, with modifications to address previous issues.

“Automotive was one of the best performing ITOs. It was and is financially sustainable,” Marshall said.

“Qualifications within automotive are largely standard already, with almost 90% of the learners in the country studying through the same pathway, so the overall rationale for Te Pūkenga never stacked up with automotive.

“Of the old system, there were fair complaints of a lack of reactiveness, or proactiveness, with standard setting to keep up with changing technology. Under the current system, the Workforce Development Councils were supposed to address that problem. Two years down the track little has been achieved, but they have worked hard to engage industry, and we can learn from that,” he said.

Marshall said the proposal may at first glance look regressive but is designed to enable simple and immediate action to address the industry’s concerns, and many of the planned changes through Te Pūkenga haven’t happened yet.

“So, we are saying loud and clear: Stop now and reconsider. Because there is no way that removing the management structure dedicated to our industry can improve things,” he said.

“The businesses we represent are reporting chronic skills shortages. Our industry deserves the right to fight for its future. If this is not rectified urgently, the implications will be felt by all New Zealanders.”

The industry groups have requested a meeting with the Minister to discuss the proposal and how it could be implemented.