Plans by NorthTec to cut jobs and close departments have come as an unwelcomed attack on staff and shocked the Northland community.

Changes announced last Tuesday outline plans to review courses in Trades and International Education and have signaled the end of delivery in Health and Safety and English courses.  

TEU organiser Jill Jones has called NorthTec’s plans “short-term” and “knee-jerk” adding that “the staff that they are proposing to cut are the ones that will be needed to provide the training and retraining that will help get Northland’s economy up and running.”

Any action by North Tec to threaten job security and educational delivery will have wide reaching effects on the community and iwi, limiting opportunities for future growth and recovery.

This top down approach is grossly out of step with the creation of a newly formed New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology (NZIST)who have been reprioritising vocational education after years of chronic underfunding and comes in the wake of the governments cash injection to trades announced in last week’s Budget.

Jones states “North Tec needs to provide education that will serve local communities and businesses. Cutting courses in trades because of short term financial pressure will not help the enhanced regional provision that the Government’s reform of Vocational Education clearly envisages.” Adding “the proposed cuts do not fit well with the governments vision of a unified, sustainable, public network of regionally accessible vocational education.”

In respect to international education Jones adds “The situation is evolving rapidly, and the government needs to put together a plan to tackle the issue.”

The concerns of international students and revenue requires a collaborative vision and TEU has been calling for a national approach to find solutions to discuss internationalisation. Vocational training meanwhile requires an invigoration approach and new vision as part of the COVID-19recovery.

For this reason, TEU is calling on North Tec to rethink its long-term approach and management of courses. This is a time for collaborative efforts and mana tiriti to ensure our communities have the best access to education. This is not a time to make rash cuts and order closures at the drop of a hat.

What should be crystal clear for North Tec is the fact that education delivered by the tertiary sector will be a key component in Aotearoa’s future path of recovery, and any attempt to undermined that is extremely short-sighted and will have far reaching consequences.

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