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Cullen: Launch of TradeFit Project

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

21 July 2006 Speech Notes

Embargoed until: Friday 21 July 2006 at 9.30am

Launch of TradeFit Partnership for Excellence Project


Christchurch Polytechnic, Sullivan Avenue, Christchurch


I am delighted to be here today to officially launch Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology’s Partnerships for Excellence project, TradeFIT.

Prime Minister Helen Clark was in Christchurch earlier this month performing a very similar task at the University of Canterbury – unveiling its Partnerships for Excellence project, the New Zealand ICT Innovation Institute, or UCi3.

The fact that Canterbury has two institutions leading two of the six successful Partnerships for Excellence projects, and that Lincoln University is a partner in two others, speaks volumes for the kind of work that is being carried out in the region.

Like UCi3, TradeFIT is the first facility of its kind in New Zealand. Its main focus is on improving the quality of trade training and increasing the number of graduates in order to meet the needs of industry and business.

What makes TradeFIT so unique is that it will include simulated residential and light industrial subdivision. This means that trainees will gain skills in key infrastructural trades, in a world-leading experiential learning environment.

TradeFIT will ensure that New Zealand has a steady stream of highly skilled, experienced trades people who have enjoyed the support of industry and business. TradeFIT is indeed an excellent fit with Partnerships for Excellence, the purpose of which is to foster better links between tertiary education institutions, industry and business thereby increasing private sector investment in tertiary education.

In doing so, it ensures that graduates have skills that are closely aligned with industry needs, and helps institutions increase the amount of research and study in areas of national importance.

As anyone in business knows, trade training is an area of national importance since New Zealand has a shortage of skilled and qualified trades people. This is why the government has increased Industry Training funding every year since 1999.

By the end of this year, the government’s investment in industry training will have almost trebled since 1999 to approximately $160 million a year. Of course, industry training is not a one-sided affair. That expansion in industry training could not have been achieved without the active support of business and industry.

Similarly, I have no doubt that the input of private sector partners into TradeFIT will be a key to its success.

Partnerships for Excellence is one of a number of government initiatives designed to support the goals of the Tertiary Education Strategy.

The vision of that strategy is to build and maintain world-class capability in New Zealand tertiary education, to support innovation in tertiary education, and to enhance the role tertiary education plays in the development of New Zealand’s society and economy.

Today’s young people are New Zealand’s future. The effort we put into their education is vital to this country’s future economic success, and social and cultural development.

Innovations such as this centre are critical to the success of the proposed reforms I announced earlier this year, and which you will hear more about next week.

A key aspect of the reforms is the concept of a network of tertiary education provision where the different parts of the system work together more closely to develop learning opportunities for students. An important role of polytechnics within that network will be to produce graduates with strong vocational skills, in areas of labour market need, to drive New Zealand’s economic transformation and ongoing social and cultural development.

To do that we need to shift our current demand driven funding system towards one that invests in sound medium to long term plans and supports institutions to deliver quality education and training that meets specific.

To do that, tertiary education organisations will need to have stronger links with everyone with a stake in tertiary education – in particular learners, employers and communities.

The result will be a system that is far more focused on the outcomes of education and training than it currently is today.

TradeFIT clearly fits well with everything I’ve described here.

It is working in partnership with major stakeholders and it meets a national need for skilled tradespeople.

I congratulate those involved with the establishment of the centre and I will follow its progress with great interest.

It is now my great pleasure to officially open TradeFIT for business and training.

Thank you.

ENDS

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