Te Pūkenga – New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology has pulled the handbrake on all digital transformation initiatives as it faces disestablishment by the new government.
Last week, Te Pūkenga received a letter of expectations from the new minister for tertiary education and skills, Penny Simmonds, which confirmed the government was hitting reverse on the previous government's plans for a centralised organisation delivering vocational education and training.
"In keeping with the Minister’s direction, we have halted all digital transformation initiatives, including phase two of the digital group restructure, and work earmarked to be undertaken within a $220m Crown loan approved by the previous government," Te Pūkenga told Reseller News.
Te Pūkenga had been working towards building a national network for vocational skills and training after inheriting twenty-five different systems, including aging IT infrastructure, from previous sector entities.
Under that programme, it was making a significant investment to deliver up-to-date, consistent user experiences for kaimahi (staff) and ākonga (learners) as well as cybersecurity across the country.
"Transformation work completed in 2023 such as the provision of secure, high-performance Wi-Fi for ākonga and kaimahi across the network through eduroam, and implementation of a scalable, cost-efficient solution to provide cybersecurity to all business divisions, are initiatives which can continue to deliver value in future models," Te Pūkenga said.
Until work on that future model progressed further, it was unable to determine how other digital transformation work undertaken so far, supporting a nationwide delivery model, could be used in future structures.
The disestablishment of Te Pūkenga requires legislative change and further development of a proposed future model for the sector.
Earlier this month, Simmonds announced the government had begun disestablishing Te Pūkenga as part of its 100-day plan.
“I have started putting that plan into action and have met with the chair and chief executive of Te Pūkenga to advise them of my approach," she said.
She also issued a new letter of expectation to the organisation's council.
“The council of Te Pūkenga has been asked to cease any activities that are inconsistent with disestablishment. This includes recruitment and staff restructuring activity, and other actions that will make it difficult to re-establish former industry training providers as institutions."
Simmonds said she had asked officials for advice on the programme of work required to support the government’s new agenda, including the legislative timeline.
“Key parts of that advice will include ensuring financial stability now, and in the future, and restoring regional decision making for local institutions to ensure they can better respond to the education needs of their communities," she said.