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Polytechnics to focus on building local community

12 May 2000

Polytechnics to focus on building local communities

Polytechnics will be encouraged to refocus on the vocational training needs of their local communities as the Government moves to rebuild New Zealand's tertiary education system, the Associate Education (Tertiary Education) Minister Steve Maharey said today.

Mr Maharey spoke to Whitireia Community Polytechnic staff today about the new Government's vision for the polytechnic sector. The Government is actively working to reshape the tertiary education system to ensure tertiary institutions are meeting the needs of students, industry and the wider society and to better use taxpayer funds. Mr Maharey said the Government wants to give polytechnics the security and freedom to build skill levels in their local communities as part of a national strategy aimed at maximising the contribution made by tertiary institutions to New Zealand's future.

"New Zealand sits at a skills crossroads. If we are to succeed in the knowledge society of the 21st century we must provide better education and training options and we must ensure more New Zealanders take them up.

"Many more Mäori and Pacific peoples enrol at polytechnics and we see polytechnic education as a key ingredient in the Government's Closing the Gaps strategy.

"Polytechnics have a vital role to play identifying and responding to the needs of their local communities. We want to encourage better links with business, with local government and with other stakeholders. Meeting local needs and building skill levels across New Zealand must be their aim.

"It is clear that polytechnics have been ignored for far too long. A decade of Government indifference has seen many drift towards emulating universities resulting in senseless and expensive competitive behaviour which now threatens their very viability.

"Labour and the Alliance are signalling a new way forward. Our new Tertiary Education Advisory Commission is helping me to develop concrete plans which will see polytechnics, and the other tertiary institutions, carving out distinct and secure roles within a nationwide system", Steve Maharey said.


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