The Tertiary Education Union will not sit by and let a National Party MP derail the involvement of staff, students, and communities in the Reform of Vocational Education.

For the second time this year, National’s Shane Reti,has made allegations of mass job losses in the vocational education sector if it’s reformed and seems to be determined to undermine the staff, students, and community involvement in the decisions about the future of the sector.

National President Michael Gilchrist says Reti is harming the well-being of staff and students, and doing damage to an already struggling sector by leaking tiny bits of a Cabinet paper with no context or real understanding of where polytechnic and on-job training is right now.

“We have known all along that the changes were going to be big. Sadly neglect of the system for 10 years because of Reti’s own party means tinkering will only widen the gap between the amazing opportunities that vocational education provides and the reality in communities like Whangarei and Timaru.”

Gilchrist says “It’s unhelpful when politicians grandstand on an issue they have little experience of.”

“We need Reti to start acting in a more constructive manner and stop trying to make a political football out of this situation. And we need public support to force all political parties to work together to ensure the Reform of Vocational Education meets the diverse needs of students,employers, and communities,” says Gilchrist.

There has been strong public consultation on the Reform of Vocational Education and our members have been actively involved from Invercargill to Kaitaia.

“We will be evaluating the government’s plans against what our members have recommended,not against what Reti imagines is best for students, communities, employers,and staff”, says Gilchrist.

TEU’s National Secretary, Sharn Riggs, says there is no evidence to support Reti’s claims around job losses. In fact if the system as a whole isn’t stablised the current job losses, which in some communities sees one in five staff facing redundancy because of National Party under-funding, will continue.

As is required by law, no job losses can even be contemplated until an organisation puts together a solid plan and consults. Reti is scaremongering once again.”