Otago Polytechnic has extended Chief Executive Phil Ker’s contract to manage a smooth transition to a revamped Vocational Education model.
Otago Polytechnic’s Council asked Ker if he would extend his contract in order to help steer the ITP into the new environment. Having previously signalled he would step down as Otago Polytechnic CEO at the end of 2019, Ker has had his contract extended to June 12, 2020. This will be approximately three months into the new system.
Ker says the extension of his contract is directly related to the Government’s Reform of Vocational Education (RoVE).
“Since I started as Chief Executive in 2004, my focus has been on Otago Polytechnic being a successful organisation. In the current RoVE context, I want us to be as well prepared as we can to navigate this new era.
“We are now in the early stages of moving to a new vocational education system.
“Although Education Minister Chris Hipkins’ announcement last week indicated he had picked up on key points that Otago Polytechnic put forward in its submission to Government in April, the devil will be in the detail.
“The Government has signalled it will announce legislation in September that will further define what a new Vocational Education system will look like,” Ker says.
“We hope the details and shape of that legislation will build on the Minister’s latest indications to retain the regional integrity of high-performing institutions such as Otago Polytechnic.
“Certainly, the language used in the Minister’s announcement on August 1 is the language of a network/system rather than a single provider – a pleasing change from the original proposal.
“For now at least, the model that’s to be implemented allows Otago Polytechnic to retain our brand and regional identity – for two years beyond the April 1 changeover to NZIST.
“We shouldn’t underestimate for a minute the work involved in this. We look forward to engaging with a wide range of industry and sector stakeholders to ensure their voices are heard, too.
“From April 1, Otago Polytechnic will operate as a new subsidiary under NZIST. This will include a subsidiary board. We need quality Otago people to step up and ensure that the decisions made are in the best interests of our region.
“In addition, Regional Skills Leadership Groups will identify skills needs and how to meet them in each region,” Ker notes.
“In order to meet these goals and deliver for our region, we will need to have a strong Otago group comprised of energetic and influential employers, iwi and community leaders.
“In the meantime, it is business as usual at Otago Polytechnic,” Ker says.
“Current and prospective domestic and international learners can enrol in multi-year programmes, confident they will graduate as Otago Polytechnic students and have access to all the student support that we currently offer.”
On August 1 2020, the Government revealed the latest details in its plans to reshape the vocational education system.
- The New Zealand Institute Skills and Technology (NZIST-working title) brings together New Zealand’s current 16 institutes of technology and polytechnics (ITPs)
- NZIST will be established on 1 April 2020.
- All ITPs will continue as regional subsidiaries of the new institution for at least two years from April 1 2020
- From now until 1 April, a national Establishment Board, based in Christchurch and comprising 10 members (including current Otago Polytechnic Council Chair Kathy Grant), will start work on the transition and continue until it is superseded by the governing council of the new institute on 1 April 2020
Find out more about the RoVE