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Te Pūkenga Plans Savage Attack On Polytechnic Education

QPEC urges Education Minister Chris Hipkins to step in and prevent the new polytech national entity, Te Pūkenga, from taking the axe to vocational and trades education across the country in a drive to save money.

On Friday Te Pūkenga Acting Chief Executive Peter Winder announced a projected $63m budget deficit for 2022 and plans to save $35 million from the sector next year. He made it clear vocational and trades education is in the frontline for massive cuts.

“The government’s Unified Funding System also comes into effect next year and we must also respond to it and the new priorities in the way training should be delivered in this sector.

"This shift means we must emphasise in-work learning and consider our cost structure for face-to-face and on-line delivery so that our costs are better aligned to demand…”

This is shaping up to be the most savage attack on vocational and trades education since the 1990s, when National abolished apprenticeships in favour of “in-work” training.

The danger is that by and large employers focus on the specific skills that the employer wants. Whereas previously, students were taught a wide range of portable knowledge and skills they could take to multiple worksites, the emphasis on “in-work” training down-skills workers, threatens pay rates and undermines the benefit of vocational education to the nation.

Te Pūkenga's move is an ideologically-driven privatisation of state education.

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It’s disheartening that the Labour government has not learned these lessons.

Vocational and trades education at polytechs is not a cost – it is an investment in our people and in our country’s future. It will return social and economic dividends well into the future.

Te Pūkenga’s proposed budget cuts on the other hand are wrong-headed, short-sighted and fundamentally misguided.

The Minister must step in.

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