NMIT set to be nationalised

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The Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology will be merged into a single nationwide polytechnic under a new government policy.

NMIT is one of 16 institutes of technology and polytechnics that will be brought under a single national institute, the NZ Institute of Skills and Technology, which will start on 1 April, 2020.

Chair of NMIT Daryl Wehner says the council was concerned that the original proposals consulted on would remove the organisation’s flexibility and autonomy and reduce capacity to react quickly to local requirements and priorities. There was also a concern that cash reserves could be consumed within a larger structure. However, he says, those issues have been mainly addressed.

“The changes align with the strategic direction we have been pursuing. This positions us strongly to play a core role during the establishment phase and to continue to operate in a way that reflects regional employer requirements.”

However, Nelson MP Nick Smith describes the announcement as a “body blow for our region”.

“This centralisation takes control away from Nelson and scraps NMIT’s separate identity and good name.

He says the long-term implications of shifting control of our polytechnic from its Nelson board to Wellington bureaucrats will be fewer training opportunities and less Nelson jobs.

However, not all are opposed to the move, as former Labour candidate and former NMIT Student Association President Rachel Boyack says the announcement brings opportunity for the region.

“We have a particular issue with courses not matching up to what’s needed in industry.”

She says tertiary institutions and industries aren’t as joined as they should be and, under one body, we will see the proper match of skills required.

Rachel assures students that there will be no changes for any existing students and courses are continuing.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said the sector needed an overhaul because automation will affect one third of all jobs and, as early as 2022, more than half of all workers will require up-skilling and retraining.