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Polytechnics around New Zealand had funding cuts of more than $40 million between 2010 and 2011 - at the very time the Government should have been investing in skills and training to help the economy start growing again, Labour’s Tertiary Education, Skills and Training spokesperson, Grant Robertson says.
“Hardest hit by the funding cuts are the polytechnics in regional New Zealand. Together they lost $32.3 million, or 11 per cent of their funding. This is having an effect on opportunities for students and is seeing staff numbers cut.
“If the government continues along this track New Zealand will be without the skilled population it needs to grow our economy and compete with the rest of the world,” Grant Robertson said.
His comments preface a speech he will deliver to a tertiary education forum in Timaru tonight, on the future of tertiary education in regional New Zealand.
“Aoraki Polytechnic is the hardest hit of the regional polytechnics, losing 19.9 per cent of its funding. This has resulted in a number of courses - such as media and computing – being cut and staff losing their jobs.
“At other regional polytechnics there have been cuts and restrictions to nursing, carpentry and electrical programmes. Budget claw-backs like this do huge damage to these institutions, which play a vital role in delivering training to their local community.
“There has been significant pressure on polytechnics as the global recession has hit. The cuts in funding from the government are making that more difficult.
“Meanwhile in the last two Budgets the government has found millions of dollars of additional funding for private training establishments. While some of these do fill gaps in public provision they are not obliged to meet the broad training needs of a community as polytechnics are.
“Labour believes that we need to invest in skills and training now to create a productive workforce and growing economy. At the last election we committed to creating extra places in polytechnics to help do this.
“We also need to recognise the special characteristics of regional polytechnics in terms of meeting their regional labour market needs, offering opportunity to local students and supporting regional economic growth.
“It’s clear this government does not understand the importance of these institutions to their communities. Labour does,” Grant Robertson said.