The Ardern/Peters Government plans to reform New Zealand's vocational education, although they've been slow to release details.
Information released recently shows their reforms will be wider than first thought, stripping power from regions and handing it to Wellington bureaucrats.
These tertiary reforms will destroy regional education and apprenticeships. National understands how important polytechs are to regions and we are fighting these reforms.
The reforms propose renaming regional polytechnics as subsidiaries of a new statutory entity called NZ Institute of Skills and Technology (NZIST).
After two years those polytechs will be amalgamated and controlled by a head office.
They will have their individual cash and community legacy assets ring fenced to a regional level but successful individual polytechnics will lose control of their hard-earned reserves.
Head office will decide how the regions' cash is spent and all other assets, including buildings and land, will simply be taken over and consolidated. For high performing polytechs, such as Wintec, this will be devastating.
Minister Hipkins is pushing ideology over what is best for students and regional New Zealand. It is likely enrolments will fall over the two year transition period, and perhaps beyond that.
There will no longer be out-of-region provisions, which are a critical way of recruiting learners to the regions and attracting international students to New Zealand.
Not only that, more than a thousand jobs will be lost just from the industry training sector. Mr Hipkins has confirmed job losses will be "substantial".
This Government claims to be "championing the regions".
But, in another example of failing to deliver on their promises, their reforms will destroy polytechs that are integral to regional communities.
Industry Training Organisations, which represent businesses and their needs, will be disestablished. Again, this is bad news for Hamilton.
Currently, ITOs organise placements for apprentices because they understand the needs of local industry and who will be the best fit for them.
That role will now be allocated to a polytech who won't have the resources and skills to manage that.
Local institutions and businesses are best placed to assess and deliver for their regions. They train the skilled and semi-skilled as apprentices, helping them learn and gain meaningful employment. They certainly don't need to be told what to do by a Government that thinks it knows best. These reforms will punish our regions and successful institutions.
We know some changes need to be made and it's a challenging task. But Mr Hipkins should address those problems where they are and not undermine effective institutions such as Wintec and Waikato's ITOs.
National will return polytechnic assets taken by Labour, and polytechnic decision making, to communities and the regions. And we will return apprentices to industry.