Te Pūkenga brings in EY for operating model design

15 February 2021 Consultancy.com.au 3 min. read
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Te Pūkenga, formerly the New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology (NZIST), has contracted professional services company EY and EY Tahi to co-design its operating model. The project will see EY paid at least $2 million over the 12-month project.

Launched on April 1 last year, Te Pūkenga brings together New Zealand’s 16 Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics. In late 2020, the resulting New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology rebranded as Te Pūkenga. The new name and visual identity, recommended to the Minister by Te Pūkenga’s Council following public consultation and extensive engagement with stakeholders, uses both te reo Māori and English, in a bid to highlight the organisation’s commitment to partnership under the Treaty of Waitangi, and to reflect the important role the organisation will play for Māori.

The Crown entity which oversees New Zealand’s polytechnics has continued its campaign of transformation with the hiring of consultants from Big Four professional services firm consulting firms, sought a partner with “a proven track record” in facilitating the “design of complex and transformational operating models.”

Te Pūkenga brings in EY for operating model design

According to Merran Davis, deputy chief executive transformation and transition at Te Pūkenga, “This project will initiate one of the biggest transformations the country has experienced for many years, completely reimagining training and delivery of vocational education.”

The 12-month project will now see EY, and its Māori branch EY Tahi, help Te Pūkenga to establish a completely new organisational operating model. A statement from the institution said the consultants will build toward having learners and employers at the centre of every decision, before embarking on a transition process.

Commenting on the $2 million which EY will receive in fees during the work, New Zealand’s Education Minister Chris Hipkins said the spend was “within what I expect” and added that Te Pūkenga is “an investment in New Zealand’s future.” He added that he felt there was “a clear distinction between the cost and processes required to stand up a new entity, and the cost and structure of a head office when it’s fully functional.”

Spending debate

Hipkins first set out his intentions for Te Pūkenga in July 2020, saying the Crown’s investment would total almost $121 million. Since then, however, the project has come in for intense scrutiny pertaining to perceptions of its spiralling cost to the public purse. While Hipkins noted the institute would need to be “nimble and a driver of change,” critics have slammed its paying of seven top staff at least $2.3 million in its first year as anything but that.

New Zealand’s Party of Opposition, National has been quick to suggest that this latest spending was “not nimble,” with its Tertiary Education Spokesperson Penny Simmonds further arguing that it was symptomatic of the Government’s decision to amalgamate the 16 polytechnics. Simmonds added, “When you have big organisations like this, you lose local accountability. It’s exactly as I expected. You have a government spending millions on bureaucracy that should be spent on students and staff.”

In December, EY was drawn into this debate overtly, when it emerged that 50 transitional industry training organisations and subsidiary staff, seven EY staff and one Te Pūkenga staff member had attended the first of three employer experience workshops at the 29-storey Majestic Centre. The venue hire and catering cost $5,290, while over $3,000 was claimed for travel and accommodation. The next two workshops were held at the Miramar Golf Course Conference Centre in late January.

When asked why the workshops could not have been held online, Hipkins defended the spending on them, stating that “good, open consultation is critical to the success of a transformational undertaking of this scale.” He added, “Vocational education is a complex system and ensuring all parties and sectors are well represented and their views heard is key to everyone being up to date on developments… Sometimes that is best done on a face-to-face basis.”