New Zealand‘s 16 polytechnics to merge into one entity

3 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineAugust 1, 2019

The Government has announced it is going to merge the country‘s 16 polytechnics located throughout New Zealand into one entity.

The institutes of technology and polytechnics will be brought together to operate as a single national campus network as from 1 April 2020. The new entity will provide on-the-job and off-the-job learning.

The merger is among seven key changes that Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced Thursday.

“We have given a great deal of thought to how to minimise disruption, and listened carefully to the concerns of employers, staff and students,” Hipkins said.

“We are not going to rush the implementation of the changes. To ensure continuity for learners and employers and to allow time to build new capacity, the transition will take three to four years to get fully under way.”   

Hipkins said vocational education, trades training, and on-the-job training had been allowed to drift for too long, and these were long-term challenges this government was committed to fixing.

“The comprehensive changes we are making will address the widespread skills shortages across most industry sectors. These shortages highlight the limitations of the current vocational educational system.”

Hipkins said repeated forecasts showed that one third of all jobs in New Zealand were likely to be significantly affected by automation, and by as early as 2022 more than half of all employees would require significant upskilling and retraining. 

“We also know the regions are increasingly struggling to find enough skilled people to keep their economies strong.  Too many Maori, Pacific and disabled learners are being left behind to achieve at a lower level because the system just won‘t respond to their needs.

“New Zealand needs to lift productivity and for that to happen we need more companies to be involved in training and taking on more apprentices.

“Currently however, nearly nine out of 10 of our businesses are not training through industry training. Yet at the same time, 71% of employers surveyed say there is, or will soon be, a skills shortage in their industry area.”

Hipkins said the changes would give industry greater control over all aspects of vocational education and training, making the system more responsive to employers‘ needs and to the changing world of work. 

“We need to make sure that trades and vocational education are recognised and valued. There are great, well-paid jobs available for people with the right skills. We just aren‘t meeting the skills needs at the moment.

“We want to see more workplace learning, more apprentices and more opportunities for people to earn while they learn.”