Monday, February 25, 2019

NZ Reform of VET – other viewpoints

Much quieter on the media front with regards to the announcements made almost a fortnight ago, to reform the NZ Vocational Education and Training system. Here are a range of reactions and perspectives, collated from last week's news.

Educational central brought together several viewpoints. The teacher unions are supportive as they have had input into the process. ITOs are not impressed as they are the entities most affected, in short, they disappear and are replaced by Industry Standard Bodies (ISB). The student unions have not had a voice and the employers maintain the need for support of strong regional provisions.

Business opinions are summarised by thelearningwave and voxy. As per above, there is cautious support for the overall intentions of the reform.

The TOP party, a minor party formed to contest the last election (they did not gain a seat). TOP has supported Universal Basic Income, so no surprise they are keen on comparing the reforms with the VET systems in Finland and Germany whereby VET have parity of funding with the Universities and there are strong tertiary education and industry partnerships.

The union for allied staff in tertiary education - TIASA - supports the proposal as members have bore the brunt of continued reform within the sector for the last decade.

Ruralwomen  mirror opinions of employers with cautious optimism and support.

ITOs report to their stakeholders of business as usual and their lobbying for continuance. Opinions of Skills Org, Connexis and Careerforce.

As always, the devil will be in the detail and how the reforms are activated. There will be pain before gain. There is still 4 weeks to go for proposals. After which, probably months before decisions are finalised and details more concrete. So it will be many months of  "wait and see" :(

Monday, February 18, 2019

Proposed NZ Institute of Skills and Technology (NZIST)

Here is a summary of some viewpoints on the New Zealand 'reform of vocational education' proposals announced last week - see previous blog for overview.

The proposal with the largest impact on VET in NZ is the announcement of the formation of one entity to provide VET. The technical discussion document, spells out some of the details.

Submissions on the proposals have a very short timeline of 6 weeks. Therefore, there will be a flurry of activity within the sector, to prepare submissions and responses.

Some responses from last week include:

The NZ Herald article on the effects of the proposal on ITPs (polytechnics), ITOs (industry organisations) and learners, provides perspectives.

Education Central summarise the main effects on ITPs and ITOs.

Two Radio NZ interviews summarise initial reactions.

Firstly, short responses (8 minutes) from Southern Institute of Technology CE, Penny Simmons and Skills Org (ITO) CE Gary Fissenden summarise the concerns from each sector.

Then a longer interview (30 minutes) with TEU (Tertiary Union) president Michael Gilchrist, Phil Ker Otago Polytechnic CE and Warwick Quinn from the Building and Construction ITO (BCITO).

Summarised below:

Phil Ker's reaction on impact on ITPs – yes and no – yes due to looking into fixing the funding, support work integrated learning initiatives but requires investment, staff capability training and curriculum redevelopment. Not so happy with the one entity.
Proposed combination of the best of a systems and the best of automous ITPs approach. Certain functions like buildings, financial / enrolment systems and staff training make sense. But autonomy of ITPs still important to meet regional needs.
Acknowledged need for flexibility of learning as workforce needs to continually upskills and reskill to meet the future of work.
How will ITPs cope with supporting the apprentices now supported by ITOs. ITPs have a history of managed apprentices and should be able to ram up as required. ITP tutors are teachers and pratitioners and are ideal to support workbased learning.
Most of ITPs have a track record of success and fiscal problems have come about due to underfunding which should have been resolved at least 2 years ago.
It is not a campus issue but a delivery issue. Learning centres could be a solution so that students have support for learning wherever they are situated. One large entity may be difficult to be agile and responsive to regional needs.
Under the model, industry skills groups would provide advise to ‘head office’ as to what sorts of programmes.

TEU view is that ITPs should be the heart of VET in NZ. This includes their stakeholders, students and staff. Wants to support the right thing to do, so that this can happen.
Individual ITP staff contracts will be grandparented and followed by shift to the ‘one’ institute. There may be some job losses but also new positions will be formed. Any large rationalisation will have impacts on jobs. Admin positions and rationalisation of curriculum development along with redeployment across ITO sector will be initial effects.

Both Phil and Michael reckon $$ will need to be put in to get the whole thing going.

ITO reaction were surprised at the shift of workplace learning to ITPs. Supportive of anything that will support VET. ITOs have been efficient as they have provided cost effective support and training. ITOs are owned by employers. The heart of the ITP system is the learner. Need to ensure that employers are engaged in the process. Skills shortages are critical at the moment and it is important not to disrupt the ‘flow’ of trained workers into industry.
Important to ensure this new system supports VET. Single entity may not meet the needs of everyone. At the moment, there is a choice between all workbased with apprenticeship or some pre-trade followed by apprenticeship. 6 week consultation period a bit short to get all the important discussions completed. Agility and nimbleness will be a challenge but if the industry skills advisement works effectively, then it may work.

 So, lots of conversations going on, to be collated into submission documents. It will be mid-year, at the earliest, before we hear about the outcomes of the submissions and details of final decisions. Meanwhile, the one guarantee is for change and more change to the sector in the coming two to three years. The VET sector are supportive of change, as the system as it stands, is unsustainable. Therefore, the details of how to accomplish the change and whether these measures will provide for a more agile VET provision at sustainable costs to the tax payers, will need to be outcomes of the reform. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

New Zealand Reform of Vocational Education and Training (VET) and Polytechnic (ITP) sector

Today, the NZ Minister of Education, Chris Hipkins, provided details of a wide ranging review of both the vocational education and training system and the Institutes of Techology and Polytechnics (ITP) sector.

An overview of the intentions of the review are summarised in this mornings article to 'overhaul the VET sector'.

This afternoon, the details are reported by Stuff 'government proposes merging 16 ITPs' and the NZ Herald providing more detail on the VET sector. Radio NZ provides summaries of both the merger of ITPs and changes to VET.

In summary, the proposal is to have one entity with the proposed name of 'NZ Institute of Skills and Technology' provide VET. Current ITOs will merge into this entity as well, so that the emphasis becomes the preparation of work ready workers.

Interesting discussion now in the offices and corridors as to implications, advantages and disadvantages. The proposal is now open for submissions which close 27th of March. Official documents and details are found in the reform of VET site and through the Minister's official announcement page.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Australian Vocational Education and Training (VET) - The conversation

Worked through the latest issue of Research Today, the newsletter published by AVETRA - the Australasian Vocational Education and Training Research Association. The majority of the articles in the issue, were also featured on 'The Conversation' at the end of 2018, in a series on 'The future of VET'.

All the articles have a strong Australian contextual slant, but there are many messages within the articles which are common through VET systems internationally and these provide food for thought for all VET researchers.

In NZ, we are about to recieve details on two major policy documents this week. These are on the reform of the VET system in NZ and the ITP roadmap - for restructure of the NZ Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics sector. It will be interesting to see the details and to evaluate how NZ moves forward in comparison to other VET systems.

Back to the articles, brief overviews and links below, as per my perspectives with the NZ VET reviews in mind.

1) E. Smith on 'Teachers and trainers are vital for the quality of the VET sector, and to the success of learners'. Provides an overview of the Australian shifts to lower qualification requirements for VET teachers (Cert IV) and its consequences. A survey conducted from 2015 - 2017 indicates a call for higher qualifications and finds having a 'degree' makes a difference. Caveat being would be the author teaches at at university that provides degree level qualifications for VET.
In the NZ situation, most VET teachers complete a level 5 Diploma but this is not compulsory. There are also post-graduate Diplomas for VET teachers as the NZ ITP sector spans a wider range of learning and offer programmes up to Master level. Some NZ VET teachers, teaching at post-graduate level, will have higher qualifications in their discipline and undertake the post grade VET teaching qualification. Ako Aotearoa, the NZ Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence, has been exploring the need for all tertiary educators to complete teaching qualifications or be accreditated as educators through various professional organisations e.g. Higher Education Academy etc.

2) S. Billett on 'We need to change negative views of the jobs VET serves to make it a good post-school option'. Details the 'old chestnut' of poor regard and low standing for VET and the jobs they provide education and training for. This is a very long and ardous approach requiring deep societal change. There are similar challenges in NZ but hopefully the coupling of the reforms suggested for VET in NZ will be better aligned with the review and reform of school outcomes and qualifications. One of the goals being to provide better pathways for learners from school to 'work' via VET / higher education.

3) L. Simon on "VET needs support to rebuild its role in getting disadvantaged groups into educatin and work' is a call to ensue VET provides opportunities for learners from a range of non-traditional and challenged backgrounds. From my perspective, I think NZ has always been cognisant of the challenges and worked at meeting them. The current system puts emphasis on parity of outcomes for Maori, Pacifica and other learners. The Tertiary Education Union (TEU), which represents VET teachers, put out their 'stake in the sand' last week' with call to ensure NZ VET was availed to all and an end to 'competitive funding'.

4) R. Shreeve on 'A national set of priorities for VET would make great social and economic sense'. Provides a overview and rational for the need to support VET and proposes a way forward, given the rapid changes wrought by societies shift into 'the future' of work, education and learning.
Includes a call to review the competency-base approach which in NZ is now tampered by all Level 1 - 6 qualifications being based on 'graduate profile' outcomes.

Overall, timely arrival of these articles which provide good overviews and background of the Australian VET systems, some of which inform the NZ reforms.

Monday, February 04, 2019

Education 4.0

As an accompaniment to the current interest in Industry 4.0 - summarised briefly in a previous blog last year - comes the concept of Education 4.0 as a means to prepare students for the future of life and work.

Peter Fisk, provides an overview on what Education 4.0 may look like and suggests that educators should not be intimidated but work out how, as individuals how to contribute and develop a plan towards moving towards the goal. Be the disruptor, no the disrupted!

There is a slideshare on 'changing the game of education' which summarises the inpact of Industry 4.0 and rationalises the need to shift into and support Education 4.0.

Education 4.0 is describes as a response to the future of education with the following points.

·       responds to the needs of “industry 4.0” or the fourth industrial revolution, where man and machine align to enable new possibilities
·       harnesses the potential of digital technologies, personalised data, open sourced content, and the new humanity of this globally-connected, technology-fueled world
·       establishes a blueprint for the future of learning – lifelong learning – from childhood schooling, to continuous learning  in the workplace, to learning to play a better role in society.


new vision for learning is required to
·       more important to know why you need something, a knowledge or skill, and then where to find it – rather than cramming your head full … don’t try to learn everything!
·       built around each individual, their personal choice of where and how to learn, and tracking of performance through data-based customisation … whatever sits you
·       learning together and from each other – peer to peer learning will dominate, teachers more as facilitators, of communities built around shared learning and aspiration.

And provides the nine trends for education as:

Diverse time and place
Personalised training
Free choice
Project based
Field experience
Data interpretation
Exams will change completely
Student ownership
Mentoring will become more important