Bay of Plenty politicians react to the proposal 16 separate polytechnics, including Toi Ohomai, be replaced by a New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology which will take over programme design and administration

It would also take over enrolling and managing apprentices and industry trainees from what are now 11 industry training organisations (ITOs).

Simon Bridges

MP for Tauranga

Tauranga MP Simon Bridges. File photo
Tauranga MP Simon Bridges. File photo

"The most important thing to me as MP for Tauranga is that the needs of our local industries are catered for, and under today's announcement all of the decision making about what's best for our region will stripped from us and given to Wellington bureaucrats.

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Businesses based in our community know what demand there is for skills here in the Bay. But this Government wants all of the decision making to be done by a centralised body in Wellington.

Industry Training Organisations, which represent businesses and their needs will be disestablished. These are the groups that know and understand the demand for the trades better than anyone else.

We know that there is work to be done to make sure we have quality, sustainability and more skilled people in the trades, but the idea that all this can be solved in Wellington is naive."

Jan Tinetti

Labour List MP, based in Tauranga

Labour List MP Jan Tinetti. File photo
Labour List MP Jan Tinetti. File photo

Every New Zealander deserves access to quality education and training throughout their lives, so they can realise their potential. Right now, our vocational education system is broken, with institutions ill-equipped for the changing nature of work and going broke.

While these proposed changes are disruptive, without action, uncertainty will remain and institutions will continue to cut courses and struggle financially. We need to reset the system to ensure it keeps up with the rapidly changing world while being better aligned with the needs of local industry and employers.

We are proposing to establish a unified, coordinated, national system of vocational education and training with a strong regional focus. The proposed changes will ensure that the needs of learners, employers and communities drive the new system, and that Kiwis are gaining the skills they need to get into higher paying jobs while reducing ongoing skills shortages in trades.

I encourage everyone with an interest vocational education to provide feedback on the proposals at conversation.education.govt.nz.

Todd Muller

MP for Bay of Plenty

Bay of Plenty National MP Todd Muller. Photo / George Novak
Bay of Plenty National MP Todd Muller. Photo / George Novak

To take the governance of our local Toi Ohomai polytechnic away from our community to a 'Government knows best' centralised committee in Wellington is nothing short of appalling.

Whenever I have walked around our local polytechnic I have been struck at how relevant, particularly the trade courses are, for our community.

I find it astounding that the Government thinks that vocational leadership best comes from a Wellington bureaucrat as opposed to a local. This is a Wellington-centric power grab that is driven by bureaucratic ideology rather than a desire to provide genuine support for our local vocational institutions.

I am stunned that Industry Training Organisations, which represent businesses and their needs, will be disestablished across the country. These are the groups that know and understand the demand for the trades better than anyone else. I have always argued for increased engagement between industry and ITOs and polytechs, particularly with our strong horticulture economy. I still firmly believe that is best built from local relationships, not Wellington bureaucrats.

Tāmati Coffey

MP for Waiariki

Rotorua Labour Party MP Tamati Coffey. Photo / George Novak
Rotorua Labour Party MP Tamati Coffey. Photo / George Novak

This Government isn't content with leaving the hard challenges for future generations. And we in the Waiariki can't afford to do nothing while our local employers face critical skill shortages, as our institutes of technology go broke.

People are still contacting me about the fall out of the National-encouraged merger between Bay of Plenty Polytechnic and Waiariki Institute of Technology, as well as the rolling number of staff right-sizings and resignations that followed. We all felt it.

Our local tertiary providers were left abandoned, forced to chase more international students to full their funding chasm and keep the lights on.

This is the opportunity for the Waiariki to fight back and become a powerhouse of expertise around our region's strengths, such as forestry and tourism.

It's time to give staff, students, parents and employers some certainty. To grow apprenticeships. To remove pointless competition between brands and focus on promoting the brighter future that trades and vocational education offer our rangatahi.

No decisions are finalised, and Rotorua will be central to the consultation process ahead. Our city will host one of four community engagement days for employers, students and schools, as well as one of the six hui for iwi and Māori stakeholders.

Todd McClay

MP for Rotorua

Rotorua National Party MP Todd McClay. Photo / FILE
Rotorua National Party MP Todd McClay. Photo / FILE

The centralisation of all technical institutions to Wellington will, I believe, mean job losses at Toi Ohomai and a further loss of control over exactly what courses are offered in the Bay of Plenty. This one size fits all approach from the Government will not deliver better outcomes for local students or employers in the Rotorua area.

Rotorua and the Bay of Plenty know best what demand there is for skills in our own backyard. That's why Toi Ohomai is so valuable to local students and businesses.

But the Government's proposed reform of vocational education will strip power from regional New Zealand and hand all of it to Wellington bureaucrats.

It's concerning that the Government is only allowing six weeks for consultation on these far-reaching changes. This feels like they've already decided to ram changes through and the consultation will be meaningless.

Fletcher Tabuteau

Rotorua-based New Zealand First deputy leader

Rotorua New Zealand First MP Fletcher Tabuteau. Photo / FILE
Rotorua New Zealand First MP Fletcher Tabuteau. Photo / FILE

This is an essential and long-needed response to structural issues in the vocational training sector long underfunded and struggling to break even, year after year.

This is an opportunity for staff, students, business, and anyone in Rotorua to engage and work together throughout the consultation to ensure Toi Ohomai delivers meaningful skills for the amazing number of jobs out there.

Working together will mean better outcomes for students and the businesses they work for.

Steve Chadwick

Rotorua mayor

Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick. Photo / File
Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick. Photo / File

Whatever shape this ultimately takes needs to feature a real focus on career pathways and apprenticeships as being central to enabling our young people to achieve their training and work aspirations and get good employment outcomes.

We also know that there is a need to bridge current skills gaps that exist in our own district and across New Zealand as a whole, and we've always said that there needs to be a very strong link between business sector needs and what's provided by our vocational training institutes.

Angie Warren-Clark

Labout list MP based in the Bay of Plenty

Papamoa East based Labour MP Angie Warren-Clark. Photo / Laurilee McMichael
Papamoa East based Labour MP Angie Warren-Clark. Photo / Laurilee McMichael

The announcement is hugely positive, both for businesses who are screaming out for staff who have skills relevant to their industry here in the regions, and for tutors who have for a long time expressed frustration at the amount of time spent developing courses, materials, and fighting for resources – instead of being in the classroom teaching.

Outside my MP duties, my husband and I run a construction business. Pre-trade training at polytechnics has supported trade industry training like BCITO to get young apprentices work-ready. I look forward to trade training and polytechnics working together, alongside our two years free fees for the trades and our Mana in Mahi programme to support skills shortage.

I will be keeping a close watch to ensure the needs of our region are listened to, both so that local businesses have skilled staff ready to go, and so that current staff at Toi Ohomai, who recently went through a merger, don't suffer the same headaches again.