TEU members at WelTec and Whitireia stood up to ensure quality and accessible education for communities across the Wellington region but are demanding better from their Chief Executive, management, their Commissioner, and the government.
Over the last month members of the Tertiary Education Union | Te Hautū Kahurangi employed at WelTec and Whitireia have been making submissions on proposed cuts to over 70 jobs across the two institutions. They have saved 20 jobs through their efforts which means students will be keeping courses and programmes of study that they would have otherwise lost.
TEU organiser Dan Benson-Guiu says “We don’t want any jobs going, but our efforts have at least ensured that students will continue to have access to a range of quality courses and the academic staff who lead them.”
However, we are angry that areas of priority education and training to meet the needs of communities have been undermined by the announcement of job cuts today.
Benson-Guiu says “Areas where there have been irresponsible cuts are in creative, counselling, addictions and youth development.”
“Given the government’s wellbeing budget included plans to increase the professional workforce needed to tackle the high level of mental health and addiction problems in New Zealand, we are angry that major cuts are happening in the Addictions, Counselling and Youth Development programmes,” says Benson-Guiu.
“We still want a proper explanation as to why the management and the Commissioner at Whitireia aren’t on board with contributing to this national goal.”
Another area that staff plan to keep pushing back on is cuts to early childhood education.
Earlier, staff successfully petitioned the employer to maintain the early childhood courses for a year, which is crucial for current students. However, the staff are now concerned about future learners and will continue to seek stability in early childhood courses, an industry where there is a skills shortage.
TEU National President Michael Gilchrist says management and the commissioner need to think again – with support from Government.
It’s not just the management and Commissioner who need to step up. It’s the government. It’s simple, the funding model has to change if we want all New Zealanders to have access to highly trained professional in all areas – health, engineering, teaching.”
These types of cuts compromise the government plans to have stronger vocational sector through its current reform. That’s why they must step up.
Gilchrist says “Everyday we see the positive impact that vocational education and training has in our communities. The moves to change the way the sector is structured will not be enough to keep communities like the Hutt and Porirua well served with educational opportunities.”
“Above all we must keep enough quality staff in the current vocational system. Despite the courageous efforts of our members, these cuts go too far and too deep. If you want an education system to meet the Tertiary Education Strategy goals released this week, which places learners at the centre, having barrier free accessible and quality teaching – then you have to keep quality staff in the current vocational system.”
Dan Benson-Guiu, TEU Organiser, +64 22 312 1439
Michael Gilchrist, TEU National President, +64 27 899 4256