Vocational education needs to serve learners and businesses 13 Feb 2019 Vocational education needs to serve learners and businesses We need to make sure vocational education is serving the needs of learners and businesses, says Business NZ Chief Executive Kirk Hope.The Reform of Vocational Education, announced today by Minister of Education Chris Hipkins proposes broad changes to the vocational education system.“We welcome changes to the vocational education system that ensures that learners are able to step in to jobs where we have businesses in desperate need for staff,” said Mr Hope. “Industry training and apprenticeships play a vital part of the vocational education system and the workplace is a great environment to learn in. We want to make sure that this part of the system is not weakened by any of the proposed changes.“The Future of Work and rapidly changing skill needs of businesses require a vocational education system that can keep pace with the changing environment of industry. This will mean making sure that young people transitioning from school to tertiary education or the workforce are well supported to continue developing new skills throughout their working career.“We know that a job for life won’t exist for the generation coming through. Being adaptable, having a solid education foundation and having a positive attitude to learning new skills has never been more relevant as we see a global shift in businesses requiring enterprise skills. There is huge labour market demand for qualified people in the trades, agriculture, hospitality and tourism industries, and yet we’ve seen the skills shortage gap widen and the number of graduates in these areas in decline over the last few years. We urgently need to address the skills mismatch between what our tertiary education system is producing and what businesses need in their workforce to lift productivity.“Businesses are keen to open their doors and provide work experience, apprenticeship and training opportunities, and to have support from education providers to do so.“We fully support the need for more consistency in skill and graduate outcomes for learners. Our education system needs to be based in high quality teaching and learning, that uses real-world experiences to prepare people for the workplace. Currently, too many people are going through a vocational course without successfully moving in to a job in the area they’ve studied. Workers need to be able to step back in to education to develop their skills and prepare for their next career move as well, and yet we know there are lots of barriers to people being able to get the training they need, at the right time, in the right place. Workplace training is a great way to develop skills, particularly for those people that have never done any formal tertiary education. We need to make sure that Apprenticeships and work-place training is strengthened through this review.“The Government invests the better part of $1 billion in vocational education annually. We are falling short on a return on investment in terms of a skilled and productive workforce. We will work with Government to make sure that the vocational education reforms drive better results for learners and businesses.