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The full package of resources is available to all new apprentices and was developed by BCITO’s in-house qualifications team in consultation with industry.

BCITO launches new resources for apprentices

New Zealand’s largest provider of construction trade apprenticeships has launched a new set of resources for apprentice carpenters ahead of news of the proposed changes to vocational education.

WEB EXCLUSIVE

Speaking at an industry conference in Christchurch in mid-June, BCITO’s Glenn Duncan launched the resources to support businesses delivering the New Zealand Certificate in Carpentry.

“Today’s launch marks a key milestone for BCITO and our industry partners as enrolments in the New Zealand Certificate in Carpentry approach 2000 since January. This is the culmination of thousands of hours of work to create modern, high-quality resources that we are proud to present to employers and apprentices,” says Mr Duncan.

“The rapid growth in the number of apprentices we support has meant providing updated and comprehensive resource materials to help them learn while they earn has never been more important.

“A modern workplace requires modern learning resources, so we’re adding value by giving our apprentices guides to health and safety, environmental legislation, and consumer protection best practice, on top of the core skills, tools and planning materials they need,” he adds. “The resource design complements BCITO’s shift into the use of digital tools to enhance the experience of all of our learners.”

The full package of resources is available to all new apprentices and was developed by BCITO’s in-house qualifications team in consultation with industry.

Translating theory into practice

This year is the first time the carpentry certificate is being delivered in the workplace with the full resourcing required to translate theory into practice. The programme allows apprentices to undertake at-home reviews and represents the most up-to-date learning material for the modern workplace environment.

BCITO chief executive Warwick Quinn says it is another example of the industry doing what it does best – training apprentices and providing them with the real-world, hands-on experience they need to become successful tradespeople.

“BCITO’s strength is in our face-to-face relationships and contact with industry, involving approximately 55,000 site visits per year. This means we know what’s important for apprentices to know in the workplace, and can provide the most relevant, modern learning resources appropriate for them to succeed,” says Mr Quinn.

“While there is currently a level of uncertainty in the sector, our work establishing standards, developing resources and organising training continues strongly. We’re simply doing what hundreds of thousands of businesses across New Zealand do every day – putting our head down and getting on with the job.”

Reform of vocational education

The announcement in early August by the government on their long-awaited decision on the reform of vocational education was met with disappointment by BCITO, saying the reforms will remove industry control for on-the-job learning, placing the responsibility with a new centrally run institution.

“Our enrolments have steadily increased over the past five years to where we now have nearly 13,000 construction apprentices learning on the job,” says Mr Quinn. “The sector was very clear in its view that the status quo was performing well and should be maintained. Industry members are concerned the reforms have the potential to undermine the confidence of construction employers and apprentices at a time when construction is booming and skills are more critical than ever.”

However, Mr Quinn is pleased that the Minister of Education, Chris Hipkins, has taken on sector industry views on how to manage the transition. “We cannot afford to throw the baby out with the bathwater and get this wrong. The last thing anybody wants is to look back in five years and wonder what happened to all the apprentices,” he says. “We are happy to see BCITO’s recommendations around minimising the risk when transitioning to the new model have been taken on board. Any change must be done in a way that minimises disruption to employers and apprentices.

“Our main focus now is on supporting our staff, apprentices and employers through these changes. We must ensure employers and apprentices encounter no disruption and the only thing they notice is a change of the branding on the shirt from the person coming to visit them,” he adds.

“It is essential employers and apprentices understand it is business as usual and they should not hold off entering into an apprenticeship for fear of not completing or what the changes might mean.”

The proposed changes

The government’s announcement effectively confirms what was contained in the original consultation document which sees the establishment of the New Zealand Institute of Skills & Technology (NZIST), a single institute created from a merger of the country’s 16 institutes of technology and polytechs.

The NZIST will undertake both off-job, or classroom-based, learning as well as on-job learning which industry training organisations (ITOs) are currently responsible for. ITOs have some 140,000 trainees and apprentices and these will eventually be picked up by the NZIST.

ITOs will be replaced by workforce development councils (WDCs) that will be responsible for the development of qualifications, mediation, workforce planning, oversight of training providers and brokerage.


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