Matthew Martin is a senior reporter at the Rotorua Daily Post

Labour keeps eye on polytech merger (+ video)

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Labour Party education spokesman Chris Hipkins will be keeping a close eye on the merger of Rotorua and Tauranga's polytechnics after visiting some of Rotorua's education providers.

Mr Hipkins today met with staff at Kea Street Specialist School and Lynmore Primary School and members of the Rotorua Principals' Association.

Tonight he is holding an open question and answer session at the New Zealand School of Tourism.

During his visit he also met with Waiariki Bay of Plenty Polytechnic Secondary Tertiary Pathway manager Annie Waterworth and interim chief executive Neil Barns to discuss the merger and get up to speed on the issues facing students.

Mr Hipkins said the merger was not a concern right now, but there were components of it he would be keeping an eye on.

"I haven't yet got enough detail to have concerns or comfort either way, but part of the reason for doing these sorts of visits is to get on the ground feedback.

"We will want to make sure there are good local relationships and good local education and training provisions. If this merger results in a reduced level, we will obviously have concerns about that."

He said Labour's recently released Working Futures Plan that would provide three years of free post-school education across a person's life, transform careers advice in high schools to ensure every student has a personalised career plan, and its Dole for Apprenticeships scheme, where employers are paid the equivalent of the dole to take on apprentices, would benefit Rotorua locals.

He said the old way of training would soon be out of date and on the job training would become even more important with the rise in automation and technology taking over jobs.

He also said it was even more important for school students to be planning their careers earlier and that should be based more about what they were passionate about, rather than what they could end up doing for the rest of their lives.

The polytech's Student Association president Virgil Iraia said while he thought the party's policies were interesting, it was not his position to say if they were any good.

"That's up to the voters. But, there would be benefits to the region.

"There are a lot of opportunities for employment and education here, we are surrounded by forests and quality tradespeople are always needed."

- Rotorua Daily Post

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