When NorthTec and Northland Inc had twin babies they called them the Northland School of Business and the Talent Management Office.

The birth was officially announced last week, with the signing of a Northland-centric agreement that will see both parents working together to raise education, business capability and employment opportunities across Northland.

Some existing NorthTec business-focused courses will be tweaked or tailored to match regional economic planning with local tertiary education outcomes, said Northland Inc's business development strategy overseer, Joseph Stuart.

''The relationship will strengthen both institutions. We [Northland Inc] have a mandate to strengthen Northland.''


That includes strengthening relationships with industry, Maori and other key stakeholders, Stuart said.

The School of Business and Talent Management Office are aspects of a multi-faceted drive to ''join the gaps between students and employment''.

Those gaps are more about relevant education designed to meet what the businesses need than available job numbers, although the ultimate aim is to grow jobs.

The new business school will ''help create pathways for students into employment", Stuart said.

Northland Inc actively works with almost 80 businesses regionwide, and engages in various ways with 230 a year to stock-take its ''regional reach and service provision''.

Stuart, Northland Inc's general manager business innovation and growth, said he takes two NorthTec business students as interns each year. The new relationship could enable and encourage many other companies to do the same.

Included in NorthTec and Northland Inc key shared objectives are collaborating to support international education and engaging with more rural communities through a Regional Reach Programme.

The deal will define and refine courses at smaller campuses and, where needed, tailor them to a community-run or very small business model.


''There is a strong social component, such as how do we support those communities to be self-supporting in a commercial and socially sustainable model,'' Stuart said.

A ''digital enablement plan'' will mean remote campuses, marae or home-based sites will eventually run off a digital platform.

"Talent management" will include Northland Inc running NorthTec level three and four business programmes at its own site, The Orchard.

The incubator treatment will encourage networking and what Stuart described as "the water cooler moments" - insights and spontaneity that can't be written into a curriculum.

The Northland School of Business, with links to local and central government, Chamber of Commerce and hundreds of regional businesses, would aim to attract students from further afield.

''We, and they, have to ask what is Northland's comparative advantage? What's going to make them want to come to Northland to study?'' Stuart said.

The model could also hold hands with other tertiary providers whose courses might benefit this region, Stuart said. Health, tourism and conservation are among many fields the future will be hungry for and where NorthTec has already done well.

In the meantime, there will be no shiny building, no naming rights or other grandstanding.

''Let's just do stuff,'' Stuart said.

''This is about being practical and achieving things. Every tertiary provider in the country is challenged. We need regional strength, we need to see what we can derive out of a stronger focus.''