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Bold decision to Unify all Vocational Education is welcomed

Bold decision to Unify all Vocational Education is welcomed

2 August 2019

For immediate distribution

TIASA Te Hononga, the specialist voice and union for allied (non-teaching ) staff throughout the NZ tertiary education sector, today welcomed the Minister of Education's announcement for unification of all 16 tertiary institutes of technology and polytechnics into one unified but networked new institution through a phased process commencing in 2020.

“The reach, operations and expertise through every region will not only be preserved through these changes they will be greatly expanded”, said TIASA National President Shelley Weir,” and this is a most welcome and badly needed improvement.

The announcement signals a new, collaborative and inclusive approach that will directly involve each region’s key stakeholders - Maori, employers, communities, students, staff and the learners of tomorrow. It is a far sighted and important change that preserves and expands the very best of our sector, in partnership with the other key stakeholders across each community and region. This starkly contrasts to the current competitive model, which is well past its use by date and has brought the sector perilously close to collapse. “It is our members who have borne the brunt of this failed model over the past decade”, said Shelley Weir. “Many hundreds of allied staff jobs and a huge amount of sorely needed expertise and institutional knowledge have been lost though the ceaseless rounds of organisational reviews restructures and redundancies, with often too little or no real benefit and at high financial and human cost. Even now this destructive gauging out of the very heart of the system is continuing, despite all evidence this is counterproductive, greatly exacerbating the major problems that now exist across the sector.

The slow death by restructure that has occurred over the last decade, is incredibly distressing and cannot continue, nor can the brutal impacts of this on our learners, staff, communities and economy. The changes announced are a pathway forward and over time will ensure the flexibility adaptability and responsiveness and ability to anticipate and meet the real needs of today and tomorrow, and will ensure no one is left behind.

The current competitive model has seriously compromised tertiary institutions' ability to adequate meet the skills development, training and educational needs today and tomorrow, leaving them unable to meet the major skills gaps which continue to grow. It does not adequately resource, support or develop the modern, flexible and adaptable approach now urgent required to meet today’s and tomorrow’s needs, including those already foreshadowed by rapidly advancing massive technological change and the impacts of AI on our labour market and all within it. Despite the many difficulties our sector has struggled to cope with that the current model has created, there have been some stand out successes, for polytechnics, ITOs and other tertiary providers, but there have also been many failures.

Scaremongering by Dr Shane Reti, over job losses, is both hypocritical and unhelpful. Over the past decade not one jot of interest in or concern for the huge numbers of allied staff jobs lost under the competitive model has been shown to us and our members by Dr Reti and the past government of which he has been a part. Instead all TIASA's efforts to bring these problems to their attention have simply been ignored. It is unbefitting that this major change, which is well overdue, should be undermined by efforts to politically points-score. We invite Dr Reti to meet with us so he can be better informed first-hand, and we invite him to work collaboratively with us and all other stakeholders to help support and build the tertiary education structures and systems that our country now so badly needs.


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