NZIM : NZIM Briefs New Government – lifting workplace productivity

NZIM’s briefing paper focuses on the need to find and fund effective solutions for workplace productivity and skills building, and to ensure NZQA and TEC adapt their processes to incorporate effective work-based education and training solutions rather than trying to fit solutions into their existing heavily-managed and controlled structures.
NZIM outlined the difficulties of delivering effective work-based education and training solutions in its last two briefing papers to incoming governments. Government funding was, it said, largely channelled into education systems and agencies that, by their very nature, were unable to provide management capability in existing workplaces.
And while NZIM acknowledges some “welcome changes” to the roles of NZQA and TEC in recent times, this year’s briefing paper says there has been “little change in the culture of compliance and control that characterise these two government institutions with the result that solutions are accepted for funding and support only if they fit the current education and training models”.
The paper outlines, acknowledges and supports the increase in government programmes aimed at improving management capability in New Zealand. NZIM will, it says, continue to play an active role in helping to implement these programmes.
The paper endorses the previous Labour government’s initiatives to develop workplace productivity including the skills strategy, the development of literacy and numeracy, and the management capability initiative, but says NZIM is concerned about the effectiveness of the implementation of these initiatives. “There is clear evidence from New Zealand and overseas that informal learning methods such as mentoring, coaching, action research and supervision are the most effective ways of delivering improvements to workplaces,” it says.
NZIM is also concerned about the lack of consistent and complete management standards and supports the re-establishment of nationally recognised management standard-setting body. This was project led by NZIM some years ago which did not proceed because of inadequate resourcing.
Government funding for tertiary education and training favours formal qualifications and delivery methods over more informal ones. NZIM suggests the new government widen the TEC’s brief to include “authority to fund initiatives that are outside the current education portfolio”.
According to NZIM’s paper major deficiency of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) is its lack of consistent and complete set of management standards “with some vital areas of management completely lacking”. The government funds Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) only for NQF qualifications, so few trades qualifications have any business or management content.
NZIM also believes that sustainable management is rapidly impacting on organisational life, strategies and structures and wants to work with the new government to understand and explain why sustainable management is important and how it will impact on business and organisations.
“In essence,” says NZIM national president Robin Dunlop, “we are concerned about barriers to the achievement of favourable outcomes in management education and training and want to work collaboratively with the newly elected Government to deliver better outcomes.”
The briefing paper has 11 recommendations to develop management and leadership skills in both new and existing businesses.
Recommendations The new Government should establish single task force to coordinate the work of the different government and private agencies in the development and delivery of programmes to improve literacy, technical skills and management capability in small businesses.
Educational funding policy should be changed to enable educational institutions to obtain funding for alternatives to classroom-based teaching, including informal learning that might not lead to qualifications. This funding would be determined by its effectiveness in meeting learning needs.
Educational funding should be made available for effective education and training ventures that lead to improvements in management capability, whether or not they fit with current educational models. This funding would be determined by its effectiveness in improving management capability.
The strategic goals for tertiary education should be extended to include goals for business and management and other government priorities.
Current funding restrictions on private training establishments should be replaced by the same performance-based funding system that is being introduced for other parts of the tertiary sector.
The NQF should be reviewed as matter of urgency to ensure that it is effective in delivering skills training that it is flexible and builds pathways into and out of other qualifications. Ideological impediments to the credit of other qualifications into the NQF should be removed.
TEC and NZQA should ensure their roles are facilitative of good learning, and seek solutions that enable innovative and effective practice, even where it does not match their current ideologies.
The current piecemeal approach to standards in business and management should be replaced by simple set of internationally compatible benchmarked standards that apply to all areas of business and management and are assessed on the job. Assessment (and self-assessment) processes should be developed for the diagnostic use of people in managerial positions, and courses and qualifications should be available to improve management competence.
These standards should provide goals for teaching qualifications but should not provide syllabus or assessments for those qualifications. Qualifications in business and management should have outcomes relating to the teaching programme, and should be evaluated on their effectiveness in the development of work-based skills.
If the new Government endorses the policy of improving management capability among small businesses, the strategy that would have greatest impact would be to fund mentoring service that was free to all businesses in their first year of operation and at nominal cost for other businesses. That process should be funded out of the tertiary educational budget as an alternative to current ineffective interventions in the training of small businesses.
Polytechnics should be funded to coordinate the disparate services offered to small businesses in each region into an effective, adaptable programme of work-based skills development, business development, and management capability that leads to competence-based qualification. The funding for this should come from the funding going to current programmes.
And finally, the paper notes the importance of ethics and ethical behaviour as an important part of management practice. “A stream of high-profile company collapses in recent times has focused attention on managers and companies who have clearly been paying only lip service to ethical behaviour and at worst engaging in fraudulent activity.

For copy of the full version of the NZIM briefing paper go to

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