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Version review of NZCFS Level 5 a structural tweak, skill standards still to come

The next version of NZCFS Level 5 has been submitted for approval with NZQA, following a mandated review last year.

Friday, April 5th 2024, 6:26AM 1 Comment

by Andrea Malcolm

Ringa Hora, the workforce development council responsible for setting and monitoring financial services qualifications, ran the review which is required by the NZQA to happen every five years to keep the qualification up to date.

Ringa Hora general manager of quality assurance and qualifications, Te Oho Reedy, describes the outcomes of the qualification review as minor.

She says a person studying for the next version of NZCFS Level 5 would see very little change to what is being delivered by the providers at the moment.

“This has very much been a maintenance process which we’re required to do to make sure qualifications are fit-for-purpose and align with the intention of the legislation.”

Ringa Hora worked with an industry working group of 10 people, including education providers, and a consultation group of seven including the Financial Services Council and Code Committee. A draft was placed on the Ringa Hora website for public consultation from Dec 13 to Feb 9, and the industry working group incorporated feedback before the submission was finalised in mid February.

Changes made following sector feedback include closer alignment with the wording in the Code of Professional Conduct for Financial Advice Services and an update of evidence requirements for assuring consistency. Sandy Chan, qualifications development facilitator with the WDC, describes it as tweaking.

NZQA is evaluating the submission to check that Ringa Hora has provided all the necessary information and evidence needed for the new version to go into the framework for another five years.

Once it gives its approval, the NZCFS (Level 5) version 3 will be registered on the NZ qualifications and credentials framework (NZQCF). The NZQA will also allocate an expiry date for the current version 2.

Reedy says the version number is administrative and shows that the qualification has been reviewed and updated with the next review date pushed out for another five years.

“Every time a qualification is republished on the NZQA framework, whether it’s minor or substantial, it’s given a new version.”

Because there is a code for the financial advice sector, it is up to the Financial Services Code Committee to incorporate the new version into the code.

From unit standards to skill standards

While the qualification review is about structure, the content or building blocks are determined by standards.

Reedy says the NZQA looks at the qualification first, hence the version three draft has been submitted before the standards review which is about to start.

“With the qualification evaluation phase they’re looking to ensure it is sound, can be understood, that there are no barriers to completion and that it can actually be delivered. We don’t start the development of standards until the structure is sound.”

NZQA is moving from unit standards to skill standards after public and industry feedback in 2021 that vocational qualifications were too complicated.

Reedy says unit standards have become detailed and prescriptive making it difficult for education providers to pick up and develop training programmes.

“Skills standards have a more high level outcome saying you have to be able to do this, to this level and quality. But they’re not overly prescriptive on how the provider gets the learner through that.

“Using skill standards, providers can create more flexible training packages. They allow for more innovation and creativity.”

Ringa Hora will hold a meeting to inform interested parties about skill standards on April 23rd. Chan says it will be up to industry to steer the direction of what will happen standards-wise. She says the working group convened to review the qualification, won’t necessarily be the same for reviewing and developing standards.

“We’re bringing everybody back together. We’ve actually received more interest in the standards development which is great to see. And from that we could have a whole new working group.”

Once the skills standards have been reviewed, training providers will realign their programmes, says Reedy. “I wouldn’t expect that we’d see an influx of new providers rushing to develop programmes in this space. It’s quite specialised in comparison to some of the other qualifications on the framework.”

She says phasing out and replacing unit standards is not a fast process.

“What that means for us is having a very balanced process where we’re not breaking anything by placing something out really quickly.”


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Comments from our readers

On 4 April 2024 at 12:08 pm Amused said:
Workforce Development Councils (WDCs) were created by the last Government to “ensure the vocational education system meets industry needs and gives a stronger voice to Māori business and iwi development”. There are six WDCs Ringa Hora being one and their responsibilities include setting standards, developing qualifications, and helping shape the curriculum of vocational education.

Prior to the last election then National Party tertiary education spokesperson Penny Simmonds said Workforce Development Councils were not connecting with industry any better than industry training organisations did.

"They're a cost of over $30 million per annum, and we know that Business New Zealand surveyed all their members and only 2 percent of their members knew that they existed, so that was not a good signal that they were working closely with industry and business."

Simmonds said a National-led government would scrap the councils and return the job of liaising with industry and developing qualifications to industry training organisations, which still existed as the workplace training arm of Te Pūkenga.

Given the above and when we clearly have had minimal adviser participation on this working group why have an external third party like Ringa Hora with no connection to the financial services industry still been charged by NZQA to run this? Clearly Workforce development councils such as Ringa Hora won’t be in existence much longer hence they won’t be receiving any more taxpayer money for essentially doing nothing which is exactly what has happened here.

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