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Cullen: New Central Hawkes Bay College Tech Centre

Hon Dr Michael Cullen
Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance, Minister for Tertiary Education, Leader of the House

18 February 2006 Speech Notes

Opening of new Central Hawkes Bay College Technology Centre

Central Hawkes Bay College, Tavistock Road, Waipukurau

Good morning. It's a pleasure to open a facility here today that represents a very significant investment in the future of the students who will go through Central Hawkes Bay college in the decades ahead. As such it is also a critical investment in the central Hawkes Bay region, since it is abundantly clear that the economy of this region, like any other, will be increasingly based upon having a workforce that is technologically literate.

As every parent of teenagers knows, young people are very adept consumers of modern technology, especially the kind of communications technology that has them up all night texting their friends. What is more important is that they become masters of that technology, able to participate in an economy where innovative technology coupled with a skilled workforce are what's needed to give us the edge in our markets.

Some of you may remember a time when technical subjects were regarded as poor cousins of the more elite arts and pure sciences that would prepare a young person to be a lawyer or doctor. I for one am happy that that notion has been turned on its head in the last decade or so.

This $2.0 million facility is a flagship for a future which demands greater proficiency in technical subjects. It will cater for a broad spectrum of courses, including computer design, food and nutrition, textiles, wood and metal workshops, graphics, electronics and culinary arts. It is important to note that these subjects equip students for careers in some of our most exciting growth industries, such as the multi-billion dollar food and beverages sector, our niche manufacturing sector, the film industry and the hospitality industry.

What we know is that our economic future depends upon our ability to be more productive in these and other growth industries. Hence a good grounding in technology is essential to almost any career path.

Who would have thought a decade ago that this country could produce blockbuster Hollywood movies, that our fashion designers would exhibit their designs on the finest catwalks of Europe, that Kiwi chefs would run top restaurants in London and that our wines would be satisfy the finest palates in the world?

Our successes today on the world stage will inspire students to take a closer look at their education options. The technology centre gives them that chance to appreciate the opportunities that are out there as this economy transforms itself.

This investment is also evidence of the wider commitment the government has to improving quality across the sector. We are working hard to ensure students achieve better outcomes at every level.

As you may know I am currently focused on a major review of funding mechanisms for the tertiary sector. This is important for your students today so that those who enter tertiary institutions in the future will have more confidence in the quality of courses they choose. It is vital that we have a tertiary sector which provides consistent higher quality education that meets international benchmarks and fulfils the expectations of students and employers.

I expect to be in a position to make announcements on the direction for the tertiary sector next month.

I know the facility that is being opened today is but stage one of a major redevelopment that will also see four laboratories reinstated. Once completed later this year at a total cost of $3.5 million the new facilities will serve the community well for many years.

Most importantly Central Hawkes Bay College will be well equipped to meet the challenges of providing high quality education in the 21st century. I applaud your efforts to improve learning outcomes for students and your commitment to involving local businesses and the wider community in preparing students for the real world.

I note that parents in this region are clearly recognising that the college is taking the right steps to meet the aspirations they have for their children. Your roll has grown significantly over the last five years.

This facility is solid evidence of an education institution that is in touch with the diverse region it services so I would like to congratulate Richard Shumacher and the staff and parents of the College on their vision and their efforts in seeing this project through to completion. Congratulations also go to Judd Dougan Architects and Waipukurau Construction Limited who have built what I am sure you will agree is a very fine facility.

Thank you.


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