Warning polytechnics merge and ITO changes will see fewer apprentices

The Government has been warned changes to vocational education will see industries hire fewer apprentices and fewer people enter training.

But Education Minister Chris Hipkins says this is "scaremongering".

Government plans to overhaul the sector include merging 16 polytechnics into a single, centralised New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology, and the creation of a unified funding system to encompass both provider-based and work-based learning.

It also wants to redefine roles of industry training organisations (ITOs) to instead establish "industry skills bodies€".

During consultation on the proposals, industry leaders said it would damage the sector and potentially affect consumers as the country's skills shortages became exacerbated.

On Monday, National's tertiary education spokesperson Shane Reti said the polytechnic reforms would disadvantage people wanting to study lower-level work-based programmes, and the number of people in vocational education would decrease.

Reti said that could cause polytechnics to suffer further financial strain.

However, everyone has been in agreement that there is a need for changes to the "broken" sector.


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