|NEW ZEALAND'S EDUCATION
5 August, 2010
Social Development Minister Paula Bennett and Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce today announced changes to the Training Opportunities Programme (TOP's).
TOPS training courses for beneficiaries are to be reconfigured to have a greater emphasis on getting people into work.
"I am committed to helping beneficiaries get the skills they need to help them get a job," says Ms Bennett.
The Ministry of Social Development currently funds TOPS contracts which are 100 percent managed by the Tertiary Education Commission.
The changes will see a 40:60 split between MSD and TEC managed contracts.
"I'm satisfied this provides the right level of tailored courses, both long and short to respond to the varied educational needs of beneficiaries," says Mr Joyce.
A review of the current TOPS programme found three quarters of beneficiaries who did courses were still on benefits three months after completion.
"We want to do more to get beneficiaries the right training and skills to assist them in to work more quickly," says Ms Bennett.
"Around half of participants are close to being work ready and don't need long-term training. They need skills that are relevant to local employers," says Ms Bennett.
Forty percent of TOP's funding will be invested in short, employment-focused training programmes via MSD.
There will be a tighter focus on helping those people needing basic, foundation skills such as improved literacy.
Work and Income will use its knowledge of labour markets to help TOPS graduates find meaningful work.
Sixty percent of TOP's funding will be managed by TEC largely for longer courses.
"It makes sense to target our investment in training so that every dollar spent is spent well, it's about being smarter with what we've got," says Ms Bennett.
Ministers Joyce and Bennett acknowledge the change is a significant shift for providers and MSD and TEC will work with them as they adapt some courses.
"I cannot stress enough that MSD and TEC are committed to ensuring this transition is a smooth one," says Mr Joyce.
MSD is committed to working closely with providers and has the infrastructure to do so immediately.Work and Income and TEC will be contacting all providers to discuss the implementation of the changes.
"Our people throughout the country will be meeting face to face with providers to talk this through, answer questions and address concerns," Minister Bennett said.