The mood in Te Pūkenga.

Hau Taki Haere | Tertiary Update Vol 27, No 6

By Steve McCabe, Branch President, Te Pūkenga MIT

A good employer wouldn’t go on the radio and tell his workers that up to a thousand job cuts were on the way, you would think.

Te Pūkenga, the entity Chief Executive Peter Winder heads up, includes around 8,000 staff from the 16 former polytechnics who provide vocational education and training.

A little over a week ago, Winder told Kathryn Ryan—not his workers directly, but through a radio interview—that Te Pūkenga is part of “a fundamental shift in the way that people engage in tertiary education, and at its core, that’s how we move to support people to learn in the workplace, as opposed to learn in the classroom. This will work way better for learners than spending years in a classroom.” Asked about on-the-job training, he said “absolutely, that’s at the core of Te Pūkenga—that’s at the core of how we do a better job for learners.”

What he said is not in line with the vision that we have long been told should drive Te Pūkenga. The Charter of Te Pūkenga itself states there will be vocational education provision across all communities and provision that will be accessible to all. To live up to this vision there must be on-campus provision – for many learners, the best way to learn is in the classroom.

Winder’s reinvention of Te Pūkenga during the interview, he says, is based on experience in the Australian TAFE sector, which he said had “a mixed track record of performance,” and from looking at Georgia Tech in the US, a quite entirely different entity from Te Pūkenga on many levels.

By the end of the interview I was left with the feeling that Te Pūkenga’s senior managers have no idea who or what they are leading, lack vision and understanding, and see running Te Pūkenga not so much as an opportunity to create the world’s finest vocational education, and more of an exercise in bookkeeping.

I have colleagues, and as a branch president I have union-member comrades, who tell me they’re terrified that when the next cut comes, their job will be the next to go.

The mood within MIT, where I work, is bleak. What will change that is the senior managers listening to experienced staff who have been putting learning at the heart of all they do for decades.

I have written to Peter Winder, to come and speak to the TEU branch here in Tāmaki Makaurau, to allay fears, to explain what he imagines is his “vision.”

We’re still waiting for his reply.

Note: Since the interview on RNZ Peter Winder has acknowledged that he should have spoken to staff first about the job cuts.

Also in this update:

Other Stories:

Te Pukenga survey reveals staff fear, anxiety and frustration – RNZ

Te Pūkenga leadership have failed – TEU

MAINZ Auckland music school closure confirmed, says Te Pūkenga – NZ Herald

A lament for the German language; lost to Otago – ODT