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31 March 2019


A leading on-the-job industry training organisation (ITO) with responsibility for sectors that support our most vulnerable people believes the Government is taking a big risk with its rush to reform the vocational education sector.

  • Uncertainty could add to severe skilled worker shortages
  • Proven success of current on-job training model is at risk
  • Vulnerable New Zealanders could pay a heavy price for crisis in polytechnics

Careerforce, the ITO for the wider health & wellbeing sectors, carried out a survey amongst sector stakeholders. Findings confirmed that industry largely share these concerns, with one commenting that “it would be devastating for employers”.

A manager at an Auckland aged care home asked “where is the consultation with those at the coalface who are attempting to do their best in a market place that does not have enough skilled workers to fill vacancies at the moment…. we are dealing with lives not inert objects…. Our staff stuff up & someone dies!”

Careerforce Chief Executive Jane Wenman has highlighted that “our sectors alone require another 80,000 workers over the next six years to meet rising demand, according to Infometrics, so we need to tread carefully.

“We owe it to the hundreds of thousands of vulnerable New Zealanders who require qualified care to get this reform right, and therefore we are asking the Government to slow down,” says Jane Wenman.

“The strength of ITOs such as Careerforce is their on-the-job training focus, and their support of practical hands-on training for this critical workforce. Many are second chance learners who are thriving in the on-job training environment, having previously struggled with traditional class-room based learning.

“Careerforce supports on-the-job training for the sectors of the workforce that are so critical to New Zealander’s health and wellbeing.  The growing demand for mental health support services, along with the pressures upon aged care due to our ageing population are two sectors crying out for well trained workers, particularly at a time of real worker shortage.

“There’s a big danger the proposed reforms will cause significant disruption to workforce development as well as imposing additional costs on employers. There is also a substantial risk that with the shift of trainees and apprentices to the proposed single and national institute, the voice of our sectors will be lost.

“ITOs are a success story with proven strength in delivering what employers need in the workplace – you can’t teach empathy in a classroom,” Ms Wenman says.

“Those at the coalface have the experience of knowing what success looks like and where the areas of improvement could be.

“Employers have told us they are very frustrated with the way the Government has gone about this – the reforms feel rushed. There has not been genuine consultation which has been disappointing.

“We are not against reform and we think there are ways that the vocational education system can be improved. We are keen to help, but right now we don’t believe the wholesale reforms proposed by the Government are the right approach.

“For example, multiple providers currently develop their own programmes for their respective trainees to achieve their qualifications. If this function was centralised, we would get greater consistency of graduate outcomes, and greater system-wide efficiencies.

“We fully support the Government in dealing with the obvious and immediate problems facing the polytechnic sector, and then working with stakeholders to ensure the best possible long-term solution for the wider vocational education sector.

“We are all united in our common goal to improve the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders, and we will continue to advocate for our sectors, their workforce and the hundreds and thousands of people they work hard to care for every day.”



Careerforce is the Industry Training Organisation (ITO) for the healthcare services, home & community support, aged care, mental health, youth work, disability, social services, cleaning and urban pest management sectors.

Careerforce support employers across New Zealand’s health and wellbeing sectors to deliver workplace training programmes, allowing employees to achieve nationally recognised qualifications on the job. We are the Government appointed body that sets skill standards, and develops and facilitates achievement of NZQA qualifications across all our sectors.

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For all media enquiries, or to arrange Jane Wenman or industry contacts for comment, please contact Paul Williams, Marketing & Communications Manager on 027 600 7395, or at