Why We Need Change to the New Zealand Qualifications System

Our industry is facing one of its largest changes in education in New Zealand to date.

It sounds rather drastic, but it is very true, and it should be a positive thing for our industry.

Many in our industry have indicated they were interested in more information on the Targeted Review of Qualifications (TRoQ) process and how it affects our industry and qualifications.

I’ll be discussing this over the space of a week or so, in plain (hopefully) English, to help our local beauty therapy industry understand these changes and how they affect all of us.

Some Words to Familiarise Yourself With Before We Start

  • NZQA:  The New Zealand Qualifications Authority
  • Qualification:  The award you gain at the end of your training in a programme
  • Programme:  The studying, class time, and assessments you undergo to determine if you are able to be qualified.  (We sometimes use the word Course for this as well.)
  • Provider:  The organisation doing the training in the programme leading to the qualification.  Sometimes called a PTE or TEO or Polytechnic or ITP, depending on who owns them.

There’s a lot of information to take in about this process, so I’ve broken up the information I have into several post for you to read over the next week or so.

Why Do We Need Change?

A few years ago, the current New Zealand Government determined that our qualifications system was too complex.  There were two qualifications “warehouses”: the National Qualifications Framework, made up of National Certificates and National Diplomas (Government-owned); and the New Zealand Register of Quality Assured Qualifications, comprised of “local” (provider-created) certificates and diplomas.

While NZQA was checking the validity of these qualifications in an education context, there was little, if any, benchmarking or comparing similarities and differences between qualifications.  For example, how similar or different was the content of one diploma in beauty therapy to another?

In beauty therapy alone, we have around 65 qualifications held by 19 providers in New Zealand in 2009.  Of these 65 qualifications, at least 15 are diploma level (level 5 or above).

For example:  The National School of Aesthetics has an NZQA-Approved qualification called the Diploma in Beauty Therapy and Applied Aesthetics.  Elite International School of Beauty and Spa Therapies has an NZQA-Approved qualification called the Diploma in Beauty Therapy.  These are two separate diplomas with the same or similar content, offering the same international diplomas.

Repeat this scenario between around 20 beauty therapy providers, and problems emerge.

In short, there is a lot of duplication in the system.

The reason for this is because providers (like us) want control of our content.  We don’t want to have a committee that meets every 5 years or so to slog through a year or so of red tape to update a syllabus, then have to wait another few years or more for errors to be corrected.

Being in control of our own content means we can make minor changes as and when needed.

The big problem with the system as it was is that quite a few of those qualifications offer the same or similar training.  For example, about half of those qualifications teach a person to become a full beauty therapist.  But the definition of a “beauty therapist” can change from provider to provider, too.

The Government was growing frustrated with some graduates emerging with qualifications (not only in beauty therapy) without the skills to match to gain employment in the industry.  And, fair enough, too.  You and I and average Joe Taxpayer sink a great deal of money into training each and every person, and we (as well as the student and our industry) should be able to get a good return on our investment, right?

Yes, we should!

In my next post, I’ll talk about How the Qualifications Are Changing.

Scott Fack is the Director of Operations at the National School of Aesthetics. He remains one of the beauty therapy education industry’s leaders in compliance requirements and quality management systems. The information supplied in this blog entry is his point-of-view of the Targeted Review of Qualifications for beauty therapy.

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