What the hell is going on with our polytechs?
I knew Unitech was in trouble and needed cash, but Chris Hipkins, our esteemed Education Minister, tells us at the weekend that polytechs are in trouble.
They're reviewing the sector and by the end of that review the number of techs in business will be cut.
Surely off the back of last week's construction sector fiasco we cannot have another industry that, in so-called boom times, can't seem to get its act together.
We need housing like we never have. The industry can't cope. We have a job sector screaming for talent. How is it possible those that do the training for that sector find themselves in a mess when they should be doing record business?
I'm assuming there are obvious issues.
The type of courses they offer and whether they are relevant, the quality of those courses, the competition between the techs in the sector, the link between schools and tech as to what kids want to do and what the techs are offering, and the link between the techs and the industries as to supply and demand.
Are the techs offering courses that lead nowhere?
And if they are, why?
What's the line between offering a course for personal satisfaction for the punter, and who should pay for that, and a course that's actually linked to a specific job at the end of it?
Do the polytechs offer courses that are popular but not needed. versus courses that are needed but no one wants to take them?
I don't know, I'm not an expert.
But this is a country that has an education problem. We don't educate kids as much as we should, and too many leave school with nothing.
And at least in part the techs were supposed to be that gap for those kids who weren't interested or couldn't cope, or didn't want to go to uni.
Is it simply a case of population size? We simply have too many techs for a country with a population of about five million.
Either way, there is a serious question to be asked around public support.
If you want to educate, go for it. But at what point does the taxpayer get to pull the pin on bail outs? And how much say, given its state's money, does the government have on courses, course sizes, and course choices?
Why isn't the whole industry better coordinated than it is? Why, given all the demand we have for skills, are we in this mess? And why are we even having to ask these fundamental questions?