While the Government is not expected to release its proposals for the ITP sector and vocational education and training (VET) reforms until next week, there has been some speculation that the sector could be facing major consolidation with New Zealand’s network of ITPs reduced to just one overarching polytechnic with regional hubs.

In a report released today, Changing Lives, the TEU has implored Education Minister Chris Hipkins to approach consolidation carefully.

If the ITP sector is to be consolidated, the TEU wants to see a ‘just transition’ approach to support all affected staff. It also wants to see the “regional distinctiveness” of all campuses and courses preserved and enhanced, including the appointment of an academic leader at every campus. It maintains all regions must have access to tertiary level learning opportunities.

Michael Gilchrist, national president of the TEU, says a priority for the Minister must be to make sure ITPs stay broadly and deeply connected to the communities, both regional and urban, in which they are placed.

“More than this, the hard-working teaching and allied staff in ITPs play a crucial role in helping us develop the practical and intellectual skills we need to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world.

“The Minister must remember when he makes his announcement next week that ITPs and their connections to local communities and industry, provide a vital link between what this Government has promised and what it can deliver. Without the skill, experience and dedication of the staff in the sector, we simply cannot train future house builders, nurses, and social workers.”

The Changing Lives report also calls for an end to competitive funding. The TEU wants to see funding increased for sector, with baseline funding that recognises different costs to different communities.

Minister Hipkins is expected to announce the recommendations for the ITP and industry training sectors next week. A public consultation period of six weeks will then commence.

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