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West Coast polytech doubles in size – record year

West Coast polytech doubles in size – record year

One of New Zealand’s smaller but fastest growing polytechs, Tai Poutini on the West Coast, has had its best year ever, chief executive Don Campbell said today.

The Greymouth-based polytech had 900 equivalent full time students (EFTS) in 2002 compared to 1800 this year.

Mr Campbell said the polytech was planning for 2800 students next year making Tai Poutini one of the larger employers and income generators on the Coast.

``This is quite a jump from 500 (EFTS) when I first came here in 2000,’’ he said.

“We’ve doubled in size in terms of students numbers over the last year and will produce our third record financial surplus in a row this year.’’

Much of the growth comes from courses offered out of the district but there has been growth on the Coast on the back of Tai Poutini’s no fees approach.

The push to expand courses has seen the opening of a campus in Reefton in conjunction with leading goldminer, GRD Macraes. Two 24-week heavy machinery courses were offered with excellent results and job placements. Two students from the first course are now earning $48,000 a year as operators of heavy equipment.

``A new agreement in 2002 with Search and Rescue New Zealand has resulted in training for volunteers in a range of skill areas. The programme is already helping to save lives,’’ Mr Campbell said.

``A successful project to help train staff at the Stockton Mine, north of Westport, is a further example of Tai Poutini Polytechnic working with industry partners to deliver quality training on the Coast.’’

It’s also been a bumper year for pre-employment carpentry and automotive programmes with interest stimulated by the building boom and the no fees. The students built a project house during the year.

The live-sound course offered in Auckland, and in Christchurch for the first time in 2004, has an outstanding reputation with all graduates placed in employment by direct approaches from employers. The key gig is the Smokefree Rockquest competition with 19 of these live-sounded by students in 2003.

Also new on the Coast this year has been an eco-tourism course taking advantage of the Coast environment to meet the growing needs of sustainable tourism.

The niche jade carving programme in Greymouth attracted its share of success with five students having work accepted for the 10th national pounamu and jade exhibition. Nearly half the entrants were past or present students from Tai Poutini Polytechnic.

Chef students attend the Wildfoods Festival in Hokitika to support the festival’s New Zealand Wildfoods Chef of the Year competition. Outstanding job placements are also a feature of this programme.

Other courses include scaffolding and rigging, industrial rope, crane training, fall arrest training, hazard management, rural fire, construction health and safety, mining, snow blasting, explosives and forklift training.

Mr Campbell said they want more people to know about Tai Poutini Polytechnic and their no fees courses in Greymouth so they might ``study in this incredible Coast environment.”

Copyright 2003. Word Of Mouth Media NZ

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