Call to restore funding for trade courses

The Tertiary Education Union (TEU) has called on the Government to intervene in the ‘redundancy policy’ of some institutions and retain trades tutors.

Union President Dr Sandra Grey was reacting to a recent announcement by Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce that there would be increased focus on trades at polytechnics to cope with higher levels of demand during the rebuild of quake-stricken Christchurch.

“The boost would involve re-prioritising courses toward the trades and an increase in funding,” he said.

Dr Grey asked Mr Joyce to initiate action to prevent polytechnics making trades tutors redundant.

According to her, Whangarei based NorthTec was reviewing its electrical engineering and carpentry course to make a number of tutors redundant.

Manukau Institute of Technology (Auckland) recently got rid of a number of skilled tutors from its mechanical and electrical engineering courses and Wintec (Hamilton) made trades staff redundant last year, she said.

“The main problem for these polytechnics and others is that they are not getting the block courses of students from the industry training organisations that they used to get in the past, because this same government cut funding to industry training,” Dr Grey said.

She said programmes to rebuild Christchurch and other activities such as investing in education and providing opportunities for people to become skilled trades apprentices would not be successful, if funding cuts forced polytechnics to reduce their teaching capacity.

“The Minister should stop the redundancies by putting new money into trades and industry training, not moving around old money,” Dr Grey said.

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