Duncan Garner: Polytechnic shakeup long overdue for New Zealand

Opinion 13/02/2019

OPINION: The Government is set to put a bomb under our Polytechnic sector today.

My Beehive sources say this will be the biggest shakeup of polytechs, trades training and apprenticeships since 1992 when some bright spark in National got rid of apprenticeship training under the polytech banner. We've paid for it ever since.

My well-placed sources say up to nine polytechs that can't stand on their own two feet will face the chopping block first.

Businesses are crying out for trained builders and electricians, and we've given them IT programmers and commerce grads.

Four of them are certainly acutely sick - they're broken, not fit for purpose, their courses are not what employers want.

We're wasting our time and money. We've flooded the country with foreign students who want to be pilots and people are doing arts degrees majoring in languages we don't speak here.

Students are doing business degrees left right and centre but the problem is they can't hold a hammer to save themselves or their town.

Businesses are crying out for trained builders, electricians, plumbers, and we've given them IT programmers and commerce graduates.

Tens of thousands of students paid full fees, came and went, and never ended up working in the field they studied in. And, in the meantime, New Zealand lost a blue collar workforce.

We haven't trained a generation of builders. Today's changes will crucially see a return to a new simpler apprenticeship scheme overseen by the remaining polytechs - on the job training.

The polytechs on the hit list will be merged. For example, Unitec into AUT and Whitireia in Wellington into Ucol.

A thousand jobs will go, mainly middle managers. As is always the case, this is going out to consultation, but Education Minister Chris Hipkins will get his way.

These polytechs have been in his sights for years, today he loads his gun to put them out of their misery.

Duncan Garner is host of The AM Show, weekdays on Magic Talk, Three, and Newshub.