The primary sector has been named the first centre of excellence for vocational education, to drive innovation and strengthen links between education providers and industry, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced today.
The centre will be a prototype and is part of the wider reform of vocational education announced this month to address the mismatch between training provided and the needs of employers.
It is a response to a serious skills shortage across the sector and the technological changes happening across the primary industries. The centre will be positioned at the forefront of research and lead technological innovations in the primary industries.
“Establishing a Primary Sector Centre of Vocational Excellence is another sign of the Coalition Government’s commitment to the primary sector and to raising the status of vocational education.” Chris Hipkins said.
“For too long, vocational education has been starved of attention and resources and yet we know there are huge skills shortages and great, skilled jobs to be had in the strategically important primary industry. National dropped the ball, but we are changing that.
“The centre will be formed of a consortium that includes education and industry experts and researchers, and will drive innovation and excellence in vocational teaching and learning within the primary sector. It will be hosted by a regional campus of the New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology, or by a wānanga.”
Functions for the centre could include:
- Sharing high-quality curriculum and programme design
- Sharing applied research with employers and providers
- Sharing learning technologies with providers of vocational education to minimise cost and duplication
- Providing training support for employers
- Strengthening pathways into vocational education, including from school
- Other functions as deemed necessary by the centre.
“I plan to seek proposals before the end of the year to establish where in the vocational educational national network the centre would be located and what functions it will include,'” Chris Hipkins said.
“The Government expects to work with the primary sector’s Skills Leaders Working Group and other industry leaders, to move quickly to form proposals for the centre. The sector has signalled a strong need to rebuild and reshape its training institutions following a decline in recent years.”
Cabinet has agreed funding of $18 million over four years to establish three prototype centres.
Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said he’s delighted to see that the first prototype will be for the primary industries.
“I’m also pleased to see that industry representatives, including the Skills Leaders Working Group, will be working with government on the proposals for the pilot.
“I see the centre as a great opportunity to make a difference to the quality of teaching and learning, and ensure that people working in the primary industries have the skills they need now and in the future.”
Chris Hipkins said centres of vocational excellence for other areas of specialist expertise are being considered, and will be announced shortly.