Guerin on Oram

Tertiary education specialist corrects some errors by Rod Oram:

wrote an opinion piece on industry training yesterday that sets out some strong views on industry training but also has some enormous errors. I often disagree with Rod Oram’s prescriptions, mainly on pathways rather than outcomes, but he usually gets the relevant facts right.

First up, he seems to have taken hook, line and sinker the Labour myth that National destroyed industry training in the 1990s and Labour fixed it – check out the following quote.

Oram said:

Reviving industry training was one of the key planks of Helen Clark’s 1999 election campaign. The Modern Apprenticeship Act of 2002 was one of her government’s first major pieces of legislation. It created Industry Training Organisations, each tasked with developing government-funded programmes for its specific sector.”

Guerin points out:

First, were established by the Industry Training Act 1992, by National, 7 years before Helen Clark gained power.

Oram said:

But this was exactly the deeply damaging mistake the Bolger government made with the Industry Training Act of 1992. It radically reformed skills training, leaving only skeletal government support.

Guerin responds:

Second, there was no “skeletal” support for ITOs. They got substantial start-up grants to explore feasibility (which is partly why we ended up with so many ITOs) and then had funding transferred from polytechnics to purchase training. Everyone wants more money, but ITOs were not starved.

Oram said:

As a result, the number of people in formal workplace training plunged and skills shortages became chronic.

Guerin responds:

Third, workplace training did not plunge due to the Industry Training Act 1992. The table below shows that industry training numbers started falling in the March 1988 year, when Labour was in power. The drop is unsurprising given the huge structural changes being made in the economy, education and in labour markets over that period – an increase would have been surprising. Even though the decline started under Labour, it reached its highest percentage decline in the June 1992 year (the Industry Training Act became law on 22 June 1992, so can’t bear too much blame). The decline continued until the June 1993 year, after which numbers rose the next year.

In 1988 there were 28,240 trainees. This fell to 14,904 by June 1994. However by June 1999 it was 49,577 and June 2000 hit 63,102.

Guerin also points out:

Rod Oram also wrote that ITOs “offer a confusing array of 4600 qualifications at levels one to six”, whereas readers will know that the majority of qualifications are owned by providers, not ITOs.

It’s great to have had those myths dispelled.

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