The Tertiary Education Union is concerned that NorthTec is looking to cut positions in trades training at a time when there is already a serious skills shortage. We can expect the demand for trades people will only increase when the rebuilding of Christchurch begins in earnest, and the development of infrastructure in Auckland proceeds apace, among other things.
I’m sure NorthTec and other institutions are not cutting their teaching capacity for fun – it is just another symptom of an underfunded and under-resourced sector, and of the government’s failure to deliver a comprehensive strategy around building and retaining our skills base.
In other tertiary news, Stephen Joyce is waving the big legislative stick at tertiary institutions he claims are being less than transparent in setting and spending compulsory student service levies. All well and good, but the minister might want to think about the effect of the voluntary student association membership bill that his government is about to pass.
Weakening the funding base of the associations will inevitably mean a lower level of service, and we can anticipate the tertiary institutions will have to pick up some of the slack. That means increased student levies, or trying to stretch core funding even more thinly, or both. None of this will make for high quality affordable education and training, which is a necessary precursor to building both social capital and economic value.