Acquiring and retaining skilled staff can be tough for every sector, but arguably the challenge that CIOs face is among the hardest. Prior to the pandemic, New Zealand IT departments could\u2014and often did\u2014supplement local recruitment with international talent, but now they are even more reliant our education system to deliver industry-ready graduates.\nSo will proposed reforms to the tertiary sector provide fit the bill? The answer is sadly \u2018no\u2019, and it isn\u2019t down to a lack of trying on behalf of the IT sector. Frankly, we\u2019ve lost all confidence in the approach taken by the government and the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) around reform over the last few months.\n[ Keep up on the latest thought leadership, insights, how-to, and analysis on IT through CIO\u2019s newsletters. ]\n\nPaul Matthews is the chief executive of IT Professionals New Zealand - Te Pou Hangarau Ngaio, a professional association.\n\nThis is despite the tech industry, alongside others in the engineering and creative sectors, working extremely hard to get a good outcome in the industry-aligned part of the Review of Vocational Education (RoVE). This massive review is basically changing the shape of the vocational education sector for a generation and this will, in turn, have a significant impact on our industry.\n IT Professionals NZ\n\nPaul Matthews, chief executive, IT Professionals New Zealand\n\n\nWe are really united on this, and we\u2019ve written to Minister of Education Chris Hipkins about the process in a letter co-signed by the heads of every significant tech and engineering body in New Zealand. Organisations which signed letter include IT Professionals, NZTech, NZRise, EngineeringNZ, EEA (Electricity Engineers Association), Agritech NZ, BioTech NZ, TechWomen, WaterNZ, ACE NZ (Association of Consulting Engineering), IPWEA NZ (Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia), FinTechNZ, AI Forum NZ, Canterbury Tech, and provider bodies CITRENZ (Computing and Information Technology Research and Education New Zealand) and QTI (Quality Tertiary Institutions).\nThe focus of our concern is the\u00a0Workforce Development Councils (WDCs). These are six new quasi-governmental bureaucracies that will be established to work with industry on future skill needs, then shape the education system to meet those needs via skills and qualifications.\nWe\u2019ve been pushing hard to have at least one WDC that\u2019s focused on the future of work; for example, helping all other areas work through the impact of technology on their industries and the resultant training and education needs. Instead, we have a WDC model with tech alongside hairdressing, beauty services, sports and recreation. This is because the TEC has opted to use outdated ANZSIC (Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification) codes to try to group \u2018industries\u2019. These haven\u2019t been updated in 14 years. In 2006 it might have made sense to bundle tech and hairdressing together, but certainly not now.\nNot having a full industry understanding normally doesn\u2019t matter from a government analysis or policy perspective\u2014provided the bureaucrats listen to the industries giving them advice about their own industries. But in this case, they\u2019ve chosen not to do when the tech sector presented a united view on this stuff.\nOur intention is not to embarrass the officials about this\u2014they\u2019re doing their best in a tough situation. But we can\u2019t stay silent. It is extremely important that we get this right. We\u2019re talking about a once-in-a-generation change to the future of education, and the current outlook from the ground up is fixed in seriously old thinking, and that\u2019s going to impact the outcome very badly indeed.\nThere\u2019s a massive opportunity with this review but there\u2019s now a very real chance we won\u2019t just waste the opportunity, we will end up in a worse place than we started from\u2014after spending hundreds of millions of dollars to get there.\nSetting up six mini-bureaucracies without a joined-up focus, and bundling industries like tech and hairdressing together, will not achieve a good outcome for anyone.\nMake no mistake: Jobs are changing. The robots are coming. As an industry, we know this. The Productivity Commission knows this; they\u2019ve reported on it regularly. New Zealand knows this. It\u2019s not up for debate.\nTechnology education is crucial to these changes, as are business and entrepreneurial skills, creative thinking and more. Our education system needs to adapt to make sure New Zealand is ready, which is part of the reason for these major changes in the first place.\nAs it stands, the needs of the industries that these reforms are meant to support have been ignored in favour of models and classification codes. The big picture has been lost in the bureaucracy, a focal point for the future of work has been scrapped, and New Zealand will be worse off because of it.\nWe\u2019re calling on Minister Hipkins to step in and sort it out. It\u2019s not too late and a few small changes to industry groupings now will make a huge difference later\u2014not just for our industry, but for the future of vocational education across all of New Zealand.