Govt opts for harshest polytech medicine – LGNZ

Published: August 1, 2019

News type: National news   

LGNZ is disappointed central government has opted for the harshest medicine to help a minority of ailing polytechs by creating an untested and uncosted mega-institute to run all vocational training in New Zealand.

The move to merge the country’s 16 polytechs and on-the-job training programmes into a single entity was announced today after a six week consultation period.

“LGNZ recognises that a number of polytechs were facing financial challenges, and that some form of intervention was needed to ensure that these institutes could continue to service their current and future students,” said LGNZ President Dave Cull.

“However, these failing institutes represent only small subset of the total sector, with the Government’s own financial analysis showing that nine out of the country’s sixteen polytechs are operating just fine.”

“Surely a better path forward would have been to focus on the underperformers, and then engage on a programme of wider reform, particularly when the financial pressures have been caused by the Government not increasing funding for some ten years?”

“Instead Minister Hipkins has opted for the strongest intervention, one that also looks likely to pose the most risk in terms of disruption to the system.”

LGNZ is also concerned over the inclusion of on-the-job-training programmes in the overhaul, particularly as advice to the Government on vocational training reform did not recommend merging on and off-job training.

Taken as a total package, Mr Cull said local government is concerned that the voice of communities and local employers would be lost in favour of four to seven Workforce Development Councils.

“Contrary to the view from the Beehive, New Zealand’s regional economies are highly diverse, each with differing skills needs that local polytechs and on-the-job training programmes filled,” said Dave Cull.

“New Zealand’s communities are increasingly looking for localist policies – ones that are shaped by local voices. In this light a fit for purpose vocational training system would encourage this diversity, instead of merging it out of existence.”

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