The Government’s decision to strip the Southern Institute of Technology of assets and send all power to a centralised polytechnic in Wellington is devastating for our community, MP for Invercargill Sarah Dowie says.

“The Government’s announcement today will cost thousands of jobs across the country and may be the final whistle for polytechnics like the well-performing Southern Institute of Technology (SIT).

“This is disastrous for Southland.

“Southland employers have told me they will cease to employ apprentices next year if apprentices go back to polytechnics. This is a big step backwards especially when our construction sector is crying out for apprentices.

“SIT is in touch with local business needs in the community and are training the skilled and semi-skilled as apprentices, helping them grow, succeed and gain meaningful employment.

“The Government has brutally dismissed the concerns of industry and businesses who raised serious issues with polytechnic training. Southland institutions and businesses are best placed to assess and deliver for the needs of Southlanders, but Education Minister Chris Hipkins is blatantly ignoring them.

“The Government can’t even get the name of SIT right, calling it the ‘Southland Institute of Technology’, showing just how disrespectful and uninterested the Government is in education in our region.

“The Government’s reforms will dissolve SIT into a hollow and meaningless ‘legacy’ campus. It is pulling down a successful, high-performing institution and creating a mediocre model which will reduce our competitiveness as a region.

“National supports regional education and regional autonomy. We will return polytechnic assets and decision making back to communities and the region. And we will return apprentices to industry.

“National will fight for Southland’s voice and autonomy in these idealistic education reforms.”

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