The Government’s polytechnic and industry announcement today will cost thousands of jobs and may be the death knell for some polytechnics, National’s spokesperson for Tertiary Education Dr Shane Reti says.
“Moving apprentices back to polytechnics and creating one mega polytechnic will cost at least 1300 jobs in industry and probably as much again in polytechnics.
“Employers are telling us 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.
“The Government has brutally dismissed the concerns of industry and businesses who raised serious issues with polytechnic training. Industry understands the needs of industry best and who will be the best fit for them, but Mr Hipkins is blatantly ignoring them.
“Now the Minister is turning his axe to polytechnics. Under these reforms well performing polytechnics from the Southern Institute of Technology to Otago Polytechnic will lose the very essence of their successful and innovative local decision making.
“The reforms dissolve polytechnics into hollow and meaningless ‘legacy’ polytechnics. This ideology will destroy tradition, decimate organisational knowledge and the final indignity will be the mega polytechnic spending community gifted cash and assets.
“This is devastating for polytechnics and their staff and students.
“Every aspect of the vocational education sector is under attack. Apprentices are being sent back to polytechnics, polytechnics are being amalgamated into legacy campuses, jobs are being lost, cash and community assets will be ring-fenced and regional autonomy is being stripped away.
“These reforms will be disastrous for regional education and apprenticeships. Mr Hipkins is pushing ahead with ideology over what is best for students and regional New Zealand.
“National will empower the regions to make decisions around what they teach, where they teach and how they teach. We will return polytechnic assets taken by Labour and give them back to communities. We will return apprentices to industry.
“National supports apprentices and regional polytechnics and we will fight for their voice and autonomy in these ideological educational reforms.”
Pfizer officials appearing before the Health Select Committee yesterday revealed that 30,000 Meningitis vaccines were available to PHARMAC during the recent outbreak in Northland, National MP for Whangarei and Associate Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.
“Pfizer offered 30,000 vaccines to PHARMAC who didn’t even get back to them until weeks after a campaign had been signed off to only vaccinate children aged between 9 months and 4 years, and 13 to 19-year-olds.
“The limited vaccination campaign in Northland was an attempt to save money – but these vaccines will expire shortly so they need to be used.
“Dr Clark and PHARMAC had a moral and clinical obligation to tell officials and make the vaccines available. Instead, they engaged in penny-pinching at the expense of vulnerable Kiwi kids.
“My colleague Matt King, MP for Northland, and I brought a petition on behalf of Northland residents to address this injustice.
“The vaccines were available then and they’re available now. If they don’t get used, they’ll go to waste. Why won’t the Minister let us vaccinate more Northland kids?
“The Meningitis outbreak has now affected five Northland children, including a 7-month-old baby.
“The Government has a moral obligation to immediately release the remaining vaccines to all Northland children under the age of 20, to ensure that they are protected from the devastating effects of Meningitis W.”
An agenda item for next week’s Northland District Health Board meeting confirms that there has been another case of Meningitis W in Northland, Whangarei MP Shane Reti says.
“This brings the total to two this year after a seven month old child contracted the disease earlier in the year. There were seven cases of Meningitis W in Northland last year and an outbreak was declared on 8 November, resulting in one death.
“Temperatures are lowering in Northland and I have grave concerns that Meningitis will flare up again over winter.
“David Clark first said the limited vaccinations were because of a global shortage, then he said he only found out about the outbreak in May. It was later revealed he knew in November last year and that 30,000 extra vaccines were available, but these were left on the shelf to save money.
“The Minister has failed the Northland community and MP for Northland Matt King and myself are advocating for him to do the right thing and ensure parents are provided with options to protect their children.
“We call on the Ministry to release the thousands of unused Meningitis vaccines that are slowly expiring and make them immediately available free of charge to all Northland children.
“We need to give Northland parents the assurance that every step has been taken to protect their children from Meningitis.”
The leaked Cabinet document on polytechnic reforms suggests polytechnics who have campuses or branches outside of the region may cease to exist, National’s Tertiary Education spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.
“One of the statements in the document seems to suggest that polytechs will no longer compete for out of region learners. This would apply to most polytechnics who also have a campus in the major centres.
“When this is combined with the Government’s regular scoffing of Queen Street education providers it raises real concerns that the out of region provision will be disestablished.
“Many polytechnics have an out of region campus that is critical for maintaining funding and for recruiting international students before sending them onwards to regional campuses.
“The benefit to out of region campuses is well in advance of tens of millions of dollars and they often teach courses that other local polytechnics are unable to provide.
“Removing out of region campuses would be one of the hidden but more damaging aspects of the reforms and Education Minister Chris Hipkins needs to come clean on whether this is on the table or not.
“National will fight for regional education and we will fight these ideological reforms.”
The leaked Cabinet paper on polytechnic reforms shows opportunities for young learners will be reduced, National’s Tertiary Education spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.
“The paper states there is ‘a real prospect that before and during the transition period, participation in vocational education could decrease, especially in shorter and lower-level work based programs’.
“Lower-level work based programs are generally for new and younger learners. These students will be unfairly disadvantaged by these reforms.
“We need to be supporting and encouraging young learners not putting hurdles in the road for the sake of an ideological experiment
“Polytechnics will also suffer financially under the reforms with the document showing training volumes could fall and that this ‘could affect the viability of some providers’ polytechnics.
“This is a real kick in the teeth for polytechnics who are already struggling with falling international students, uncertainty, job losses and now a reform process that is predicting less learners and polytechnics going further into the red.
“The sector needs a commitment from Education Minister Chris Hipkins that he will financially support institutions that go into the red and end up doing worse under these reforms than they were previously.
“His silence on this issue is concerning, it looks as though this is another ‘spray and walk away’ policy typical of the Government, where once the damage is done the Minister will walk away and leave the sector to pick up the pieces.”
The Government’s proposed tertiary reforms have gone much further than first thought, and could damage New Zealand’s international students, National’s Tertiary Education spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.
“The international student market, worth $500 million, is at risk under the polytechnic reforms.
“A perfect storm is brewing around our international polytechnic market, including domestic uncertainty, branding uncertainty and delayed visa processing in Mumbai.
“International students are vital to polytechnics and the New Zealand economy. But in the Cabinet document outlining the reforms, which was leaked to National, barely three sentences were given to international students.
“The sector is very concerned that key parts of the international student journey, including that local recruitment may be taken by the new mega polytechnic head office.
“Even Education Minister Chris Hipkins was concerned when his officials urgently asked how the reforms were being received in the Chinese market.
“The sector and the market urgently needs clarity and stability, way beyond three sentences. The Minister needs to bite the bullet and lay out detailed plans.”
The leaked Cabinet paper on apprentice and polytechnic reforms has confirmed industry’s worst fears with apprentices now being organised by polytechnics, National’s Tertiary Education spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.
“Nearly every industry training organisation (ITO) said they could collaborate with other parts of Education Minister Chris Hipkins’ ideological reforms, but organising apprentices must stay with industry.
“Primary ITO has 25,000 learners, largely across the rural sector, and is just one example of an organisation that could get alongside some parts of reforms, but they absolutely have to retain the organising function to do so.
“Industry has the relationships with employers and has the experience that polytechs do not - for example, in areas like remote pastoral care in rural areas. Industry training organisations have also formed in sectors where polytechnics couldn’t or didn’t want to train in, like the marine sector.
“Electricians and other tradies are telling us they will take on less apprentices if this part of the reforms go forward. Instead of creating more apprentices, these reforms will destroy them. The leaked document recognises this as one of the risks.
“Fewer apprentices impacts all New Zealanders. We won’t have the builders, the plumbers, the electricians or the engineers who we all rely on at some point.
“This country needs apprentices, and industry training organisations are in the best position to ensure they are supported and getting the best education they can.
“National believes industry is best at organising industry. National will return apprentices to industry.”
A recently leaked Cabinet paper outlines the damage the Government’s polytechnic reforms will do to regional decision making, National’s Tertiary Education spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.
“The mega polytechnic will have a council with 80 per cent of the members appointed by the Minister, all current polytechnic councils, including local members will be sacked on day one of the reforms.
“The document also states that head office will have a ‘stronger degree of control over regional operations’.
“But it’s the regions and local people who are best placed to decide what polytechnic courses to teach, where, and how to teach them. They know the needs of their community and local businesses, and are delivering for them.
“These ideological reforms will pass decision making back to Wellington and the regions will be left with token advisory groups. This is disastrous for regional education, the Government needs to stop pushing ahead with these reforms.
“National will return local polytechnic decision making back to the regions and back to local people. We will fight these reforms and fight for regional New Zealand.”
The leaked Cabinet paper on reforming the polytechnic sector shows 80 per cent of public submissions are against the idea of one mega polytechnic, National’s Tertiary Education spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.
“The reforms will see regional polytechnics renamed as subsidiaries of a newly formed statutory entity called New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology (NZIST). However most public submissions are against the idea.
“Despite this, it looks as though Education Minister Chris Hipkins will forge ahead with the proposal anyway.
“Even more would oppose the change if they had known the cash and community assets grab this new mega polytechnic will take from individual polytechnics like SIT and Otago Polytech.
“The Cabinet document shows that NZIST will have all but two of the 8-12 board members appointed by the Education Minister. It also details that cash reserves that have been hard earned by individual polytechnics will be consolidated into a regional fund held by NZIST head office.
“Not only will the cash be taken by head office, but head office will decide how it is spent by ‘prioritising those regional operations that should be able to access cash’.
“Taking community assets is a slap in the face for fundraising communities, philanthropists and volunteers who have worked very hard over the years to support their local polytechnic.
“National will return polytechnic assets taken by Labour and give them back to the communities. We will fight for regional New Zealand.”
A leaked Cabinet paper detailing the reforms of the apprentice and polytechnic sector shows a staggering 72 new entities will be created, National’s Tertiary Education spokesperson, Dr Shane Reti says.
“The Auditor-General recently said this was the biggest reform of public sector entities in the past 30 years with no evidence of financial sustainability and now we can see why. It is bureaucracy gone mad.
“Many of the new entities, such as the up to seven Workforce Development Councils, are complex structures called not-for-profit statutory entities with annual audits and reporting. The New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology has even more compliance including statements of intent and statements of performance.
“New Zealanders are not prepared to pay for 72 new entities just to satisfy Education Minister Chris Hipkins’ grab for education command and control. Mr Hipkins should be addressing the problems where they are and leaving successful institutions alone.
“The Government says it’s committed to the regions, but it’s destroying local polytech that are integral to their local communities. National will fight these reforms, we will fight for regional New Zealand and we will fight against idealistic educational reforms.”