NorthTec will support the creation of a national polytechnic as long as there is sufficient regional autonomy and decision making to meet the needs of Northland learners, its chief executive says.
Wayne Jackson's comments followed an announcement this week that the Government was spending $200m to overhaul vocational education by creating the single biggest tertiary institution in the country— a national polytechnic with more than 130,000 students.
The New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology will created in April next year by making the existing 16 polytechnics and institutes of technology, including NorthTec, into subsidiaries of a national institute.
The institute will take over responsibility for on-the-job training, including apprenticeships, from industry training organisations over the next two to three years.
The 11 industry training organisations will be replaced by Workforce Development Councils with powers to veto vocational courses that don't meet industry requirements.
Education Minister Chris Hipkins said the changes were needed because too many polytechnics were making deficits, too few people were in training, and vocational education was too complex.
Jackson said NorthTec supported three major proposals by the Government.
They were the creation of a single Institute of Skills and Technology for New Zealand, flowing together of the apprenticeship and polytechnic training models, and a change to the funding system to allow better learner support.
"We supported all three proposals as long as there was sufficient regional autonomy and decision making to allow both the selection of educational programmes and the way in which they are delivered, to meet the needs of Northland learners.
"For NorthTec, it is very much 'business as usual'. We will continue to enrol and deliver programmes with confidence that our regional role will grow over future years. We will study the detail of the announcements further over the next few days"
The Government says the transition will take three to four years to get fully underway and learners should enrol in the education provider of their choice as they normally would in 2019 and 2020, including in multi-year programmes.