The leaked Cabinet paper on apprentice and polytechnic reforms has confirmed industry’s worst fears with apprentices now being organised by polytechnics, National’s Tertiary Education spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.

“Nearly every industry training organisation (ITO) said they could collaborate with other parts of Education Minister Chris Hipkins’ ideological reforms, but organising apprentices must stay with industry.

“Primary ITO has 25,000 learners, largely across the rural sector, and is just one example of an organisation that could get alongside some parts of reforms, but they absolutely have to retain the organising function to do so.

“Industry has the relationships with employers and has the experience that polytechs do not - for example, in areas like remote pastoral care in rural areas. Industry training organisations have also formed in sectors where polytechnics couldn’t or didn’t want to train in, like the marine sector.

“Electricians and other tradies are telling us they will take on less apprentices if this part of the reforms go forward. Instead of creating more apprentices, these reforms will destroy them. The leaked document recognises this as one of the risks.

“Fewer apprentices impacts all New Zealanders. We won’t have the builders, the plumbers, the electricians or the engineers who we all rely on at some point.

“This country needs apprentices, and industry training organisations are in the best position to ensure they are supported and getting the best education they can.

“National believes industry is best at organising industry. National will return apprentices to industry.”

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