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Polytechnic Reform Yes / Job Losses an absolute NO: The New Zealand Maori Council

Polytechnic Reform Yes / Job Losses an absolute NO: The New Zealand Maori Council

The New Zealand Maori Council has both welcomed the Government’s announcement around Polytechnic reform but also cautioned that it will not put up with job losses in the regions and provinces. Council Executive Director, Matthew Tukaki, met with the Minister some weeks back to discuss the reforms and indicated that as much as possible jobs needed to be protected:

“The reality is the balance sheets of most of the Polytechnics are not great and by default we should strive to try and ensure that duplication and replication is dealt with. But, on the other hand we also need to take time and care in ensuring that job losses are minimal especially in the regions.” Tukaki said

“The reality is that many campuses and regional Polytechnics are also amongst the largest employers in the regions and provinces and amongst that work force, from cleaners and maintenance crews through to administrators and support workers, are Maori. Employment opportunities in the regions are already tough to come by so the last thing the Council wants to see is more of our people out of work.” Tukaki said

“So, in the transition phase we want to see what the workforce plan is and we want to ensure that losses are low. But, we also want to ensure that there will be retraining available for those who may need to embark on a second career and a commitment from Government that any vacancies that are open in other Agencies in those locations are made available to those at risk of unemployment first – as a priority.” Tukaki said

“What we will propose is not just a workforce development and re-engagement plan, but a package that will include retraining and re-skilling as well as programs for those post redundancies to still receive support.” Tukaki said

“The other opportunity here is to also ensure we build the skills most in demand for both today’s economy and our world of tomorrow. It is no secret that the Council wants to see a return of the Maori Affairs Trade Trainee program because after all, and at its height, thousands of skills were produced to meet demand in construction and infrastructure. So, the Council wants to see what plan we have for a nation when it comes to reducing our reliance on foreign works and skilled migrants across those categories most often linked to trades” Tukaki said

“It’s also good to see us all finally having an honest conversation about the funding imbalance – but we also need to ensure that more investment is driven into Maori technical and vocational training especially the new world of digital and online.” Tukaki said

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