Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon has joined with Hawke’s Bay leaders to lobby the Government to ensure that the Eastern Institute of Technology remains nimble to meet the skills needs of local employers.
Under the Government’s Review of Vocation Education (ROVE) proposal all 16 of the country’s polytechnics and institutes of technology will be incorporated into one national skills and training entity.
In a joint submission, the five mayors across Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay plus the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council chairman, say they welcome the Government’s recognition that business, industry, iwi and local government need to play an active role in driving the skills development and social outcomes for their communities.
They do, however, have concerns that a highly centralised decision-making entity will not enable the kind of responsiveness needed. “The region’s stakeholders need to be directly involved in co-designing solutions that work for our people rather than having models imposed on us” the submission states.
The leaders believe the proposed new structure needs to support what the region is already doing well, makes sure the transition is well-managed, and that the changes deliver better outcomes for the people of Tairāwhiti and Hawke’s Bay.
EIT was a trusted partner, deeply integrated into the various regional development strategies in place for Tairāwhiti and Hawke’s Bay, the submission states. The institute had created new school-industry partnerships, promoted sustainable value-added horticulture and a cutting-edge apiculture sector, strengthened the tourism workforce and local skill development.
Steve Breen from Activate Tairāwhiti says he “absolutely supports regionally-based and directed training provision. We need to be able to manage and determine the mix of skills we need so our workforce can develop.
“EIT is extremely well placed to supply skills and training that is work-based so our people don’t need to leave the region to develop their careers and futures. The institute is closely connected with employers and our communities and can judge not just the here and now opportunities but also where we’re going, what the future of work will be for our young people.”
CEO of Tairāwhiti Chamber of Commerce, Terry Sheldrake acknowledges EIT as a significant employer and describes the tertiary institute as “community glue”.
“EIT brings opportunities for youth and adult students to upskill and reach employment. Lots of students don’t have the opportunity for university, particularly those isolated up our coast. I would hate to see us lose out on something that has worked successfully for a long time. They have a great track record.”
Nori Parata is chairman of the Ngāti Porou Principals’ Association and principal of Tolaga Bay Area School. She says that EIT had been very responsive and flexible in meeting the needs of the East Coast schools’ students.
“Working in collaboration, we’ve been able to co-design the Trades Academy model for Tairāwhiti. It’s really the only vocational education that we have, and it’s made our isolation disappear. It provides a tertiary pathway for our students.”
She notes that nowhere else in the country would there be students that travel five hours a day once a week to attend such an opportunity to be given careers exposure. This includes an agriculture academy that was specifically set up to satisfy both student and employers needs locally.
The joint submission also notes that within the ROVE proposal there is a commitment to locate the centralised functions of the new system in one or more of the regions.
In response, the local body leaders state that the Tairāwhiti and Hawke’s Bay regions had the appropriate capabilities to host one or more of these functions. They are looking forward to discussing how they can support the success of the new entity with Minister of Education, Chris Hipkins.
Submissions to the proposal were due by 27 March but the deadline has been extended until 5 April as a consequence of the recent terror attack and the need for ministerial input in related matters.
Members of the public can also make submissions in a variety of ways. More information can be found on www.eit.co.nz/about/reform-of-vocational-education/