The government's announcement of a new national body to take over all of New Zealand's polytechnic students, apprentices and industry trainees will have an effect in Horowhenua, although stakeholders are being cautiously optimistic.

The proposed NZ Institute of Skills and Technology will take over programme design and administration for all campuses of what are now 16 separate polytechnics, the government announced this week.

This includes UCOL's Levin campus.

The plan is designed to reverse the trend of polytechnics sliding into financial deficit because of reduced enrolments between 2010 and 2017, as young people headed straight into the job market, bypassing training.


It will also mean the new institute will take over enrolling managing apprentices and industry trainees from what are now 11 industry training organisations (ITOs), instead creating employer-led "industry skills bodies".

UCOL public relations and communications director Christine Beech said the Levin campus would be affected by the changes.

She said UCOL's chief executive, Dr Amanda Lynn and its chairman Ben Vanderkolk were in Wellington for the major announcement, and that they were confident about UCOL's future.

Dr Lynn said UCOL would participate in the consultation process and believes in the importance of regional vocational training, work skills that build careers, support for the wellbeing of local communities, and the substantial contribution this makes to the New Zealand economy.

"UCOL has more than 400 highly skilled personnel and is performing well, with 450 more students in 2018 and a financial surplus of approximately $1 million," Dr Lynn said.

A spokesperson for Horowhenua Learning Centre, which also offers educational opportunities in Levin, said the changes would not affect them as it is a Private Training Establishment (PTE).

In an email to staff, chief executive Patrick Rennall said the Independent Tertiary Educators NZ (ITENZ) body, of which HLC is a member, was at the announcement and asked about private providers.

"The minister's response was 'no change for PTEs'," he said.


"Our focus and strategy remains unchanged."