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February 21, 2018 at 11:00 am

The Industry Training Federation welcomes the government's three-year work programme for education announced today, and looks forward to engaging with the government in its wide-ranging summit process.

Industries rely on the education system delivering the skills and adaptability that people will need to thrive in a changing world of work, no matter which pathway through the system they follow.

Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) arrange workplace-based education and training for 105,000 trainees and 43,000 apprentices - gaining qualifications on-the-job in industries across the economy.

"We applaud Minister Hipkins' 'end-to-end' vision and his proposal to bring the entire sector together. We need to get down to core purpose and first principles, especially where different parts of the education system connect." ITF Chief Executive Josh Williams says. Employers have serious concerns about the lack of foundation skills demonstrated by some school leavers, as evidenced recently by the international PISA report showing the maths skills of New Zealand 15 year-olds in 'accelerated decline'. “This must be reversed. Maths - or at least functional numeracy - is an essential underpinning skill for any young person looking for a successful future in the industries we represent. We must ensure young people are gaining core foundation skills to support their success in later life and work, and we need a national effort to sort it across the system" Mr Williams says.

The work programme includes a review of the Institutes of Technology and Polytechnic (ITP) sector, as part of a wider review of vocational education. As skills leaders for their industries, ITOs are concerned that regional technical and vocational institutions remain high quality and sustainable.

"New Zealand's vocational education system is far from broken and is the envy of many other countries." Mr Williams says. "However there are longstanding policy issues that need to change so that industry gets the right skills, education and training pathways articulate across the system, and collaboration between vocational providers and the industry training sector is supported and incentivised." ITOs also see opportunity through this work programme to improve the provision of careers advice, build the credibility of NCEA, and expand dual training programmes between schools and workplaces as a core option in senior secondary education.

"We strongly agree with the Minister’s desire to work collaboratively, and to take a life-long learning approach to the Education portfolio. We look forward to working closely with the government and our colleagues across the education sector on this critically important work programme" Mr Williams says.