The government is reforming New Zealand’s vocational training sector. Vocational training includes the learning that happens at schools and polytechs, and in workplaces to train and qualify people for careers in our industries. (NB: not universities, which are separate.)

The reform provides an opportunity to have a say in how people are trained for work in our sector. It’s a rare opportunity for our industry to practically engage with the education sector and to have input into the skills training that we need.

What is the problem?
At the moment our industry neither has a comprehensive Industry Training Organisation (ITO) nor an effective way to convey industry trends and workforce needs. In the proposed new model, our vocational training would likely be subsumed into a body that mainly services hospitality and service workers – unless we support an alternative.

What is the opportunity?
The current reform will create new industry skills bodies called Workforce Development Councils (WDCs). These WDCs will liaise between industry and government, to ensure employers get staff with the right skills. There will be a maximum of seven WDCs, so each one must represent a sizeable group of industries.

The proposed WDC groupings include: Service Industries | Primary Industries | Construction and Infrastructure | Professional and ICT Services | Manufacturing, Engineering and Logistics | Health, Community and Public Services.

The opportunity right now is to have a say in how our industry is represented:

On its own, the creative sector is not big enough to merit a pure Creative WDC. Instead, it would likely be included in the Service Industries grouping – which will be dominated by retail and hospitality.

A viable alternative is to join forces with the sport and recreation sectors to create a Creative, Cultural and Recreation Services WDC. This grouping will be big enough to have influence with government, and greater access to resources and funding. It will provide a clear path for employers to help identify sector training needs and provide formal qualifications for trainees to reflect skills and knowledge, and increase earning power. Emerging professionals can learn foundation skills and grow their skillsets. This learning can be done on campus, or on-the-job.

The WDC will be owned and governed by industry. Its job will be to consult with employers and industry bodies to ensure the right number of people are trained, in the right skills, in the right ways. It will take direction from industry, and based on that feedback, develop vocational qualifications specifically for creative professionals. And it will advocate on behalf of the creative industry, promoting their careers, the work they do, and the skills and knowledge of their people.

NZ On Air supports the concept of the creative and cultural sectors joining forces with the sport and recreation sectors, to form a skills body that advocates and supports all of us.

We are interested in this because we know the creative sector (including screen and music) needs more sustainable career pathways, fairer remuneration, and support for emerging artists. (Along with Creative NZ, we identified these as priorities following the Profile of Creative Professionals research.)

Skills Active, the current industry training organisation for sport, recreation and performing arts, is leading a consultation with our sector to determine whether we support this grouping of industries. If they don’t get sector support this opportunity will lapse. They want to know what you think.

ONE-MINUTE SURVEY: Please click here to take the one-minute survey.

WANT MORE INFO? Click here for more details on the reform and the WDC proposal.

ROADSHOW: Skills Active is hosting a series of industry forums to discuss this opportunity. If you wish to attend, please click here to RSVP for a date and location.

Alternatively, if you want to write a letter of support for the concept of a Creative, Cultural and Recreation Services WDC please email it to