Toi Ohomai has welcomed many of the proposed changes announced this week as part of the Government’s Reform of Vocational Education.
Minister Chris Hipkins has proposed all 16 Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics merge under a single entity to be call the New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology.
Chief Executive Dr Leon Fourie says the proposals give the sector an opportunity to make effective changes to ensure it delivers a world-leading system of vocational training for students.
“It’s a bold move with significant implications for polytechnics and industry training organisations, however we’re optimistic the proposed changes will bring about a strengthened and more sustainable VET and ITP sector. Ultimately the proposed changes are about improving the student experience and learner outcomes.
“We are pleased the government is increasing the emphasis on vocational training to reflect the needs of the industry and the rapidly changing modern workplace. We also agree it’s time for a step change for the vocational education sector and for the value of vocational education to be fully appreciated across our society and still maintain a regional identity.
“We therefore welcome many of the proposals, in particular the goal of expanded course delivery in more locations across the country and here in the Bay of Plenty and South Waikato, the redefined roles of education providers and industry training organisations, the delivery of training through education providers and the proposal for a unified educational funding system.
“We remain absolutely committed to improved regional delivery and this was also the key driver for the merger between Waiariki Institute of Technology and Bay of Plenty Polytechnic in 2016. We are proud of the resilience Toi Ohomai staff showed in working through significant change over the past two years while continuing to ensure student experience and satisfaction remain over 90 percent. We will continue to embrace and live our values as we work through another potentially major process of change.
“We also recognise it will be critical that the new system ensures the Treaty relationship with tangata whenua is protected and prioritised. The new system will also need to ensure the closest possible links with businesses throughout the country and that it is flexible enough to respond quickly to individual regional needs.
“It’s important to note that a consultation period until March 27, needs to take place before anything is confirmed and there is a great deal of detail to consider. The outcome of the consultation will be key.”
Nationwide consultation will include, meetings with individual ITPS including separate feedback sessions for management teams, staff and students; six dedicated hui for iwi and Maori stakeholders including one at Rotorua; four community engagement days, including Rotorua, where a wide range of community stakeholders can engage with the Reform of Vocational Education team.
Leon says in the meantime, it’s business as usual on campus.
“We would like to reassure existing students and those proposing to enrol from New Zealand or abroad that they will continue to receive the highest quality vocational training and education from Toi Ohomai while this proposal is being worked through. It should not, in any way, affect your decision to enrol into any of our programmes of study – it remains business as usual for our students.”