The Targeted Training and Apprenticeship Fund (TTAF) that supported learners to undertake vocational education and training without fees ended on 31 December 2022. Now, any fees relating to training are covered by the learner and/or their employer.
The decision to end fees-free has huge ramifications for industry. While the so called ‘glory days’ of funding are over, it’s nothing we haven’t done before, as prior to TTAF, training was simply a cost of doing business.
Ultimately, we need to ensure training remains a priority. We cannot let it drop off the radar, just because it’s no longer paid for.
A shared responsibility
Training is a shared responsibility. There is work to be done between contractors and forest managers to ensure we don’t just let it fall by the wayside. We’re encouraging our contractors to talk to their principals about what can be done together to relieve the financial burden that this will, of course, generate.
In the background, FICA continues to keep working with the Reform of Vocational Education (RoVE) and Te Pukenga to determine what training will look like in the future.
This reform gives us the opportunity to work smarter and work to maximise the funding that is on offer through TEC. In collaboration with the Food and Fibre sector, there are many similar challenges in training so, as a sector important to the nation, we should be able to share and complement each other’s work in this area. For instance, the base tasks of leadership management, general work skills and there are so many more when you sit and have time to reflect.
Commercially beneficial to train
Fraser Field, Quality Manager, Rayonier Matariki says there are different training models he has seen work.
“Some contractors have a real commitment to the industry and employ their own embedded trainers, while others outsource training depending on their size and requirements. But at the end of the day, all employers have a duty to ensure staff are trained adequately,” he says.
“There is a raft of evidence showing the commercial benefit in training people to be more competent and efficient at their jobs. That’s both to the employer as well as the forest manager indirectly. We all benefit from a highly-trained workforce.”
“With that in mind, while it’s the core responsibility of the employer to pay for training, they may also be assisted by their forest manager. This can be through a training allowance built into their rate and through providing training opportunities delivered by the forest manager on relevant topics.
“Really the ultimate responsibility is with the employer, but in a good working relationship they can be supported by their forest management.”
Te Pukenga National Manager of Forestry, Christine Ewart, says we need to shift our thinking and focus more on future-proofing for the people in the industry.
“We need to train our people and set them up to build their futures in the forestry industry. That, in turn, future-proofs the industry itself, as we build and retain a robust and sustainable workforce,” she says.
“For some employers that requires a shift in focus, thinking more about training for the future and not just compliance. It comes down to the learner and the industry having a shared responsibility to make sure there are still people in the industry down the line.”
Is there any other funding available?
1. Apprenticeship Funding
While TTAF has ended, a Fees Free scheme for apprenticeships in the forestry sector has been reinstated. The scheme supports first-time learners with funding up to $12,000 for two years’ training. The scheme only applies to apprenticeships in the Forestry sector, and not traineeships. Specific eligibility criteria must be met by ākonga (learners) — you can check and confirm funding eligibility by using the NSN checker. Visit: www.feesfree.govt.nz
2. Silviculture Funding
The development of an New Zealand Apprenticeship in Forest Silviculture Operations (Level 4) by Te Pūkenga Work Based Learning Limited is now possible. Muka Tangata WDC has completed revision work on the associated standards and L4 qualification. Te Pūkenga may now proceed with submission of the NZA to NZQA and TEC. For more information, contact Te Pūkenga. Visit: www.tepkenga.ac.nz