People are skilled, adaptable and have access to lifelong learning

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This economic shift means:

  • Businesses can access skills and labour when and where they need them
  • People are continually updating the skills they need for success in the future of work
  • Higher wages and better conditions at work.

Reform of Vocational Education

The Reform of Vocational Education (RoVE) will create a strong, unified, sustainable system for all vocational education that delivers the skills that learners, employers and communities need to thrive. There are seven key changes:

  • Create a New Zealand Institute of Skills & Technology: A public network of regionally accessible vocational education, bringing together the existing 16 institutes of technology and polytechnics (ITPs)
  • Create Workforce Development Councils (WDCs): Around four to seven industry-governed bodies, to give industry greater leadership across vocational education
  • Shift the role of supporting workplace learning from industry training organisations (ITOs) to providers: the new Institute and other providers would support workplace-based training as well as delivering education and training in provider-based settings, to achieve seamless integration and to be well connected with the needs of industry
  • Establish Regional Skills Leadership Groups (RSLGs) to provide advice about the skills needs of their regions to the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC), WDCs, and local vocational education providers
  • Establish Centres of Vocational Excellence: CoVEs will bring together the new Institute, other providers, WDCs, industry experts, and leading researchers to grow excellent vocational education provision and share high-quality curriculum and programme design across the system
  • Establish Te Taumata Aronui: a group to ensure that the Reform of Vocational Education reflects the Government’s commitment to Māori-Crown partnerships
  • Unifying the vocational education funding system: A unified funding system will apply to all provider-based and work-integrated education at certificate and diploma qualification levels 3 to 7 (excluding degree study) and all industry training. 

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Active labour market programmes – such as Mana in Mahi and He Poutama Rangatahi

The Government is working to take a more active approach to support people into employment and improve the functioning of the labour market. Two key examples of this include:

  • He Poutama Rangatahi (HPR) - a pilot initiative that supports rangatahi aged 15-24 who are most at risk of long-term unemployment and who are not in education, employment or training (NEET). It provides young people and employers with the tools and intensive support needed to help rangatahi into work. The Government has committed $53.1m million, over four years in funding for HPR programmes in region areas with high rates of rangatahi NEETs.

  • Mana in Mahi – Strength in Work – helps people, particularly 18-24 year olds, find and stay in work while also gaining apprenticeships and industry-recognised qualifications. Employers can get funding and support to recruit, train and retain young people. A range of supports are available to young people to stay in work and progress towards completing an apprenticeship or industry training qualification. This can help employers develop skilled, knowledgeable young workers and

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First-year fees-free education and training

The Government wants to enable all New Zealanders to access post-secondary school study and training, and to ensure we are growing the skills our economy needs now and in the future.

The Fees-Free Tertiary Education and Training Policy was implemented from 1 January 2018. In 2018, there were approximately 47,000 fees-free students and trainees, including 4,845 trainees in industry training.

Minor changes were made to improve Fees-Free for 2019 including:

  • Simplifying and fast tracking eligibility for 6,000 learners

  • Ensuring learners’ eligibility is not affected by participating in short, industry training programmes

  • Giving TEC more discretion around exceptional personal circumstances.

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Changes to temporary work visas

The Government has announced a number of changes to the employer-assisted temporary work visa system that will affect employers wanting to recruit temporary foreign workers. The changes aim to improve the temporary work visa system by ensuring that foreign workers are only recruited for genuine shortages, while also providing incentives for employers to employ and train more New Zealanders.

These changes support the Government’s wider programme of workforce improvements to tackle the long-term challenges of skills shortages and improve the way the immigration, education and welfare systems work together.

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Tomorrow’s Schools review

A review of the schooling system called Tomorrow’s Schools is near completion. The independent Taskforce recommendations are currently being considered by the Minister of Education. Changes that arise from the review will be aimed at:

  • Creating a future-focused system that is inclusive and equitable, and founded on genuine Māori-Crown partnerships

  • Enabling more equitable outcomes through greater clarity, coherence and consistency across the schooling sector

  • Providing equal opportunities for all learners (with their families) to participate in society and the world of work, and reach their full potential.

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Employment Strategy and Action Plan

The Employment Strategy presents the Government’s vision for the labour market and the changes it is implementing to improve employment outcomes for all New Zealanders.

The Strategy recognises that good employment outcomes are influenced by a range of government policy settings, and describes how the Government is intending to improve employment outcomes through the range of reforms it has underway to:

  • Build a skilled workforce

  • Support industries and regions to thrive

  • Support workplaces to modernise

  • Support workers and businesses to be resilient and adaptable in the face of the changing nature of work

  • Support more inclusive employment.

The strategy sets out a roadmap for a series of Action Plans to ensure that those who consistently experience poor labour market outcomes have the support they need develop to their skills, and achieve their potential with fulfilling careers.

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Just Transitions programme

A Just Transition is a key pillar of New Zealand’s climate change policy. The Government established a Just Transitions Unit to help shape and co-ordinate the work to support a just transition to a low emissions economy for New Zealand.

Through its just transitions activities, the Government is:

  • Partnering with others to build an understanding of transition pathways

  • Finding and supporting new opportunities that will arise during transitions

  • Improving our understanding of how transitions may impact different communities, regions and sectors in New Zealand.  

A key focus of this work is supporting the Taranaki region’s transition to a low emissions future.

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Strengthening NCEA

The Government is reforming the NCEA to make the senior secondary qualification more robust, consistent, inclusive and accessible for students of all abilities and backgrounds. This will help equip our future workforce with the skills they need for a modern economy.

The Minister of Education has announced the NCEA Change Package with seven changes:

  • Make NCEA more accessible

  • Mana ōrite mō te mātauranga Māori

  • Strengthen literacy and numeracy requirements

  • Have fewer, larger standards

  • Simplify NCEA’s structure

  • Show clearer pathways to further education and employment

  • Keep NCEA Level 1 as an optional level.

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Welfare overhaul

The Government has committed to an overhaul of the welfare system, taking immediate action to support people into work and improve financial support for New Zealanders on benefits. One of the first actions of the Government was to invest $5.5 billion into a Families Package that was targeted at some of the lowest-income earners in this country and most recently Government announced an extra $54m of funding for social services to reduce homelessness.

As part of Budget 2019 the Government announced:

  • 263 new frontline staff to focus on helping more people into meaningful and sustainable work
  • The repeal of Section 192 (formerly 70A) to remove the requirement to reduce the sole parent benefit of people who do not name the other parent of their child
  • An increase in how much a person getting a main benefit can earn up to each week (abatement threshold) before their benefit begins to reduce.

The Forum intends to publish the Strategic Assessment in 2019.

A key input into the welfare overhaul work programme is Whakamana Tangata - the final report of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group (WEAG). A work plan is under development to address issues with the current welfare system, including those identified by the WEAG. However the overhaul is not limited to the report’s recommendations.

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School Leavers’ Toolkit and Career System Strategy

The Career System Strategy (CSS) is intended to raise New Zealanders’ education levels and their skills and aspirations to meet the demands of work, now and in the future, and to improve New Zealanders’ overall wellbeing.

We will do this by ensuring New Zealanders:

  • Are aware of the education options available to achieve a wide range of skills, as well as the demand and transferability of those skills across a range of jobs

  • Are encouraged to participate in lifelong learning

  • Have access to relevant information and tools that support equity and social mobility

The CSS has five key work streams led by TEC and one led by MOE:

  1. website refresh
  2. Inspiring the Future
  3. Alliances and partnerships
  4. Market segmentation and research
  5. Career planning solution
  6. Support for career professionals in schools (MOE-led).

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Establishing regional skills leadership groups

The Government is establishing regional skills leadership groups (RSLGs) to facilitate regular dialogue about regional labour market needs and build more cohesive, coordinated decision-making at a regional level.

Each of the 15 RSLGs will be responsible for developing Regional Workforce Plans which set out the aspiration for the region’s labour market and how the desired future state will be achieved.

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Establishing regional skills leaderships groups [PDF, 434 KB]

Strengthening labour relations and lifting minimum standards (including minimum wage increases)

The Government wants to enable inclusive, fair participation in the economy for all workers.

We have already begun this process by reforming the Employment Relations Act and working to progressively increase the minimum wage rate, and the starting out and training minimum wage rates each year.

We are also working to introduce a system of Fair Pay Agreements (FPAs), for collective bargaining at an occupation/sector level to set minimum terms and condition for employment. A well-designed FPA system would protect workers from the race to the bottom in wages and conditions and therefore also protect businesses that pay good wages and provide appropriate working conditions.

The Government intends to leave it to employers and unions to make use of the system rather than mandating that they are used in specific sectors.

The Government is still considering its response to the Fair Pay Agreement Working Group’s proposed model.

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