Update from Tim Fowler, Chief Executive, Tertiary Education Commission

December 8, 2020

Ōku rangatira ā-iwi Māori, ā-hapu Māori, ā-hapori Māori, ā-rōpu kaipakihi Māori- nei te mihi atu ki a koutou katoa.

Ka mihi ki tō koutou māia i ēnei rā, e rere haere ana te mauiui kino nei, a Korona, ki ngā tōpito katoa o te ao. E kore e mutu ngā kupu whakamihi ki ērā o koutou e manaaki ana, e arahi ana i o tātou whānau katoa huri noa i a Aotearoa me te Waipounamu.

Today I write to re-engage with you and your iwi/hapū/organisation on the largest transformation of the education system of our generation. This transformation is being led by the combined education sector agencies (Te Tāhuhu Mātauranga- Ministry of Education, Te Mana Tohu Mātauranga o Aotearoa- NZ Qualifications Authority and Te Amorangi Mātauranga Matua-Tertiary Education Commission) with support from the education and industry sectors of New Zealand.

Our engagement with Māori and iwi in the lead-up to these reforms began with a large series of Kōrero Mātauranga hui that were held in 2018. These were followed up in the same year with targeted consultation with Māori and iwi partners from the then-polytechnic sector. Last year, Ministers asked us to facilitate an extensive communications and consultation process with Māori and iwi as part of the specific vocational reform process.

The Government introduced new legislation in April this year, a major milestone in the Reform of Vocational Education (RoVE). At the heart of the reform is the vision to create a strong, unified and sustainable vocational education system that is fit for the future of work, and delivers the skills that learners, employers and communities need to thrive.

We are committed to ensuring that we are working together on our shared vision for the future of vocational education in New Zealand. The system design for RoVE was informed by extensive consultation across New Zealand and provides a starting point for a new way of working. This includes:

  • the strategic role of Te Taumata Aronui across the entire Tertiary system;
  • a stronger voice for industry in identifying the required skills to support Māori businesses through six Workforce Development Councils;
  • establishing 15 Regional Skills Leadership Groups to inform Government decision-making on training and employment, improve regional labour market outcomes, and lift skills in the regions;
  • the establishment of Te Pūkenga – New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology, an organisation that brings together the 16 institutes of technology and polytechnics to form New Zealand’s largest tertiary education provider. Te Pūkenga is expected to give effect to its Charter and over the next couple of years will transform the network to ensure it puts ākonga at the centre of all it provides, ensures equity for Māori, and increases access to training and learning for all learners;
  • redesigning the vocational funding system to ensure it recognises the individual needs of learners and aligns funding to the way people   are studying, be it in the work place, on a campus or online; and in parallel with
  • a partnership-based programme of work with the New Zealand wānanga system leaders.

This link provides an overview of the projects supporting this work.

This letter updates you on one of the significant reform projects – the establishment of six Workforce Development Councils (WDCs). These Councils will give all industry (including iwi and Māori industry) greater influence over the development of the qualifications and skills that both our economy and our society need now and in future.

WDCs will provide a forward, strategic view of the future skill needs of industries. They will set standards, develop qualifications and shape the curriculum of the vocational education system. Most critically, a WDC will provide advice to the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) on investment in all new vocational educational programmes, whether work-based (e.g. apprenticeships), online or on-campus, and determine the appropriate mix of skills and training for the industries they cover. Unless a programme has the confidence of a WDC, which is essentially industry confidence, it will not be endorsed by the WDC nor funded by the TEC. Māori and iwi are already significant owners and leaders in numerous industry sectors. Currently Māori make up 21% of learners in vocational education and training in New Zealand. In 2035 it is estimated that Māori will make up 36% of the workforce, with a likely flow on to all sectors of New Zealand industry leadership.

Our intention is to transform the vocational system so that it is ready for the future of New Zealand industry, to ensure it produces better outcomes for Māori learners and their whānau, and in doing so, provides the skills needed by all employers (including Maori and iwi employers).

As Chair of the RoVE Programme Board, I can confirm that we are committed to our role in overseeing the successful delivery of the Reform of Vocational Educational Programme and ensuring the ongoing engagement with iwi and Māori industry continues to ensure that the reform meets your needs and as part of our commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

To enable the formal establishment of the WDCs, a legal document called an Order in Council is required to give formal effect to each WDC. Six industry-led interim Establishment Boards (iEBs) have been set up to develop detailed Orders in Council proposals for statutory consultation. There are ten Māori members across the six establishment boards and they have been instrumental in this work. This link shows the members of each iEB. Getting the WDCs in place as soon as possible is crucial to ensuring the voices of the industries they represent can start having a greater influence over vocational education in New Zealand.

The proposed orders have been drafted and are now are being prepared for review by the Minister of Education. Formal consultation on these proposals will run from 16 December 2020 to 5 February 2021.

We invite you to participate in this consultation and to provide feedback and submissions on the name of the WDC, the industry coverage of each WDC and how the WDCs are governed. We will advise you when this consultation process commences. Your input is vital to ensuring this important mahi represents your views and produces WDCs that reflect te ao Māori and meet the needs for all of us in Aotearoa.

We welcome any further questions, enquiries or feedback that your organisation requires and I invite you to contact Paora Ammunson, Deputy Chief Executive Learner Success – Ōritetanga.

Finally, I wish to personally acknowledge and thank the interim Establishment Boards for their leadership and commitment to date in providing invaluable thought-leadership and also facilitating initial feedback from iwi and Māori industry organisations. We have seen an outstanding level of collaboration in this work between the Chairs and members of these Boards which positions us all in a great place as we all work to bring industry voices closer to the education system and ensure we are delivering what learners, employers and communities need into the future.

Ngā mihi

Tim Fowler

Chief Executive

Tertiary Education Commission

P: 0800 601 301

E: WDCconsultation@tec.govt.nz