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New Centre to upskill New Zealand’s primary industries

New Zealand Education Minister Chris Hipkins recently announced that the primary sector has been named the first centre of excellence for vocational education.

According to a recent press release, this will drive innovation and strengthen links between education providers and industry.

Addressing skills shortage

The centre will be a prototype and is part of the wider reform of vocational education announced this month to address the mismatch between training provided and the needs of employers.

It serves as a response to a serious skills shortage across the sector and the technological changes happening across the primary industries.

The centre will be positioned at the forefront of research and lead technological innovations in the primary industries.

The Minister explained that establishing a Primary Sector Centre of Vocational Excellence is another sign of the Coalition Government’s commitment to the primary sector and to raising the status of vocational education.

The centre will be formed of a consortium that includes education and industry experts and researchers, and will drive innovation and excellence in vocational teaching and learning within the primary sector.

It will be hosted by a regional campus of the New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology, or by a wānanga.

What is the centre for?

Several functions of the centre were enumerated. These are:

  1. Sharing high-quality curriculum and programme design
  2. Sharing applied research with employers and providers
  3. Sharing learning technologies with providers of vocational education to minimise cost and duplication
  4. Providing training support for employers
  5. Strengthening pathways into vocational education, including from school
  6. Other functions as deemed necessary by the centre

The Government expects to work with the primary sector’s Skills Leaders Working Group and other industry leaders, to move quickly to form proposals for the centre.

The sector has signalled a strong need to rebuild and reshape its training institutions following a decline in recent years.

Other plans

Cabinet has agreed funding of NZ$ 18 million over four years to establish three prototype centres.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor expressed his delight in seeing that the first prototype will be for the primary industries.

He is also pleased to see that industry representatives, including the Skills Leaders Working Group, will be working with government on the proposals for the pilot.

The centre is seen as a great opportunity to make a difference to the quality of teaching and learning, and to guarantee that people working in the primary industries have the skills they need now and in the future.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins added that centres of vocational excellence for other areas of specialist expertise are being considered, and will be announced shortly.

OpenGov Asia recently reported on the Search of innovative tech to transform NZ’s primary sector.

Established through a NZ$ 400,000 grant from the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund, the Rural Innovation Lab will select three projects for funding.

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