Training stoush heads to court

Grant Davidson

A High Court stoush is brewing over proposed changes to industry training organisations (ITO), as one provider warns the quality of Queenstown’s tourism sector could suffer.

The government’s proposing major changes to tertiary education, including creating a New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology and removing responsibility for work-based training from the 11 ITOs.

Stats provid-ed by Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker show more than 600 people have worked to gain a qualification through an ITO in Queenstown in the past year.

Skills Active chief executive Grant Davidson says his ITO is seeking a judicial review in the High Court in Wellington over the consultation period for the proposed changes.

“We knew there was consultation going on around the polytechs, but we had no inkling we would be put on the table,” he says.

Then ITO bosses were called to a meeting in Wellington on February 13 – that’s when they were given a six-week consultation period, he says.

“It reeked of a pre-determined outcome from the minister.”

Queenstown’s tourism industry could also be impacted if the changes go ahead, he says.

He believes the new system will be “more complex and costly”, meaning businesses will choose to train staff on the job rather than going through a tertiary provider.

“The whole standard and quality of the local tourism operations could drop.”

He believes the current arrangement is working well, and getting good results.

Walker’s also concerned.

“The implications will hit the community and outdoor recreation facilities in Queens-town.

“All these on-the-job trainees have no idea how their training will be delivered in the future.”

A spokesman for Education Minister Chris Hipkins did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.