Skills Active Aotearoa headed to the High Court today for a hearing on its application for a judicial review of the consultation process for the reform of vocational education, which the ITO describes as “rushed and inadequate”.

“As criticism of the Education Minister’s proposed reform continues to mount, our trainees are just one of many groups facing an uncertain future, without having had the benefit of meaningful consultation,” says Skills Active chief executive Dr Grant Davidson.

“It’s a sad day for us, as this legal challenge finally has its day in court. We don’t want to be here – we have tried every avenue we could think of to achieve genuine engagement with the government, from the moment the reform was announced.

“But Minister Hipkins has shown little interest in hearing alternatives to his grand vision of one huge polytech that delivers virtually all of New Zealand’s vocational training, whether industry- or class-based,” Dr Davidson says.

“That lack of engagement – and lack of time spent talking to organisations like ours that are on the ground delivering industry training – is why we’re here today, unfortunately.”

Dr Davidson says Skills Active had no choice but to apply for a judicial review of the reform consultation, after Minister Hipkins could not give clear reasoning for the need to change the successful on-job training model. Nor could he provide any detail on how training will be managed under the proposed national polytech, or a transparent process to gather and review alternative options.

“The academic and career progress of New Zealand’s 147,000 on-job trainees are at risk. These are real people, not just numbers – and Minister Hipkins is playing fast and loose with their futures.”

Dr Davidson notes that Skills Active’s Māori trainees are already at parity with non-Māori trainees, in terms of educational success.

“We have worked hard to create an environment where our Māori trainees, and indeed all our trainees, can thrive. As such, we feel a strong responsibility not to let that environment get thrown away without careful thought.”

The High Court hearing takes place over 22 and 23 July.


  1. All of the well established and successful ITO’s such as ETCO, BCITO should join forces for this challenge. Zero consulting from government, poorly thought out policy, huge implementation issues and the removal of choices for vocational trainees who currently can chose polytechnic or ITO pathways for many trades according to what suits their needs best.


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