The meeting was hosted by NZIST Council Chair, Murray Strong, alongside Council Deputy Chair Kim Ngārimu and NZIST Council Members Tania Hodges, Sam Huggard and Peter Winder.
Murray welcomed the group to the meeting, acknowledging how nice it was to finally have everyone in the same room at the same time. Murray introduced Stephen Town, NZIST’s inaugural Chief Executive, noting that while Stephen had only been in the role for three and a half weeks, the progress he is making with a small team of Headquarters staff was already noticeable.
Stephen spent some time discussing NZIST’s transition pathway, commenting that there is a significant job ahead to transform the network, bringing together on-job, on-campus, and online vocational education and training through a unified, sustainable network of regionally accessible provision.
Three significant steps NZIST is about to take that will underpin the transformation are requesting proposals to develop a capital asset management and infrastructure strategy; developing an information systems strategic plan and seeking a partner to develop NZIST’s operating model. This work will occur simultaneously with the Council’s work to confirm the various accountability documents and distil them into the strategic underpinnings of both the transition period to the end of 2022 and the future long-term direction of NZIST.
NZIST has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to re-imagine vocational learning, and the operating model provides the chance to design a system that is simple to understand and navigate, responsive to the needs of learners and employers, delivers equitable access and outcomes for all learners and is flexible enough to change as the future develops. This will contribute to help New Zealanders thrive in the future of work.
The final operating model design, which is expected to be completed within nine months, will be one that is for the sector, designed by the sector and importantly, places learners at the very centre.
Education Minister Chris Hipkins joined the meeting from Auckland via Zoom. He spent 30 minutes talking with the group about the vocational reform programme and the exciting and enormous opportunities NZIST has as part of that. He spoke of how he expected the reform to bring out the best in everyone, and to foster collaboration not competition. He acknowledged things would need to be done differently and it was up to NZIST to develop an operating model that could ensure a seamless transition for leaners across the network, operate as a one-stop-shop for employers, and be innovative and adaptive to meet changing workforce needs.
Gillian Dudgeon, TEC’s Deputy Chief Executive Delivery, spoke to the group about funding and monitoring, highlighting TEC’s role in the system.
Other topics the group discussed included international education and the impacts of COVID-19, domestic enrolments, preparing for and welcoming Transitional ITOs into the network, and NZIST’s relationship with the broader RoVE programme including RSLGs and WDCs and the unified funding system. There was significant discussion about the cultural change that will need to occur across the network to support the transformation and the Chairs role in that, and he group explored a range of quick-wins that could drive even further progress alongside the development of the NZIST’s operating model.
The next NZIST Subsidiary Chairs meeting is likely to be in October.