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EIT not averse to beneficial change

Geraldine Travers

COLUMN

Lately there have been a number of comments on Minister Chris Hipkins’ education reform. Some of them expressed concerns about EIT’s future, about losing our regional autonomy, the trust from employers and jobs. Other comments asserted that EIT and regional mayors should follow the lead of SIT and Invercargill’s Mayor Tim Shadbolt in fighting planned changes to our sector up to and including legal action.

This criticism should not go unanswered.

Our regions’ leaders fought a spirited and passionate campaign on behalf of the current structure of EIT. Tairawhiti as a region, much less Hawke’s Bay, have seldom spoken with one voice and yet the regional submission to the RoVE process was not only strong, well-reasoned and logical, it was supported and signed by every Mayor from Gisborne to Central Hawke’s Bay, Hawke’s Bay DHB, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, Secondary Principals Associations from both Hawke’s Bay and Tairawhiti, Ngati Kahungunu, Ngati Porou, Chambers of Commerce, and a large number of additional letters of support were also attached. We lobbied hard then and are continuing to do so.

EIT’s successes were rightly described across every dimension, including our ability to successfully manage our finances. Our success over the last decade has been despite the current system, which has seen no real improvement in funding over that time, punitive “clawbacks” introduced and no ability to be rewarded for surpassing expectations.

The fact that we have not joined the large group of ITPs, who have required bailouts, has been brought about by our innovative and committed staff who have looked for ways of achieving more with less. We have worked with the system rather than fighting it. We run a very lean operation!

We acknowledge that the current system could not continue unchanged as even the most skilled operators would have eventually moved into the “red zone”.

Of course we would have liked to have continued to operate with the same level of autonomy that we have enjoyed since our inception. We would hope that as the establishment board begin their work, we will be able to make the case for “earned autonomy” as we and at least two other ITPs have proved our management and governance ability. We are happy that we will be able to hold on to our reserves which we will use for the benefit of the people of Tairawhiti and Hawke’s Bay. The EIT name has real worth and we feel confident that the establishment board will see that.

It is important to say that we are not averse to beneficial change. And we acknowledge that there are a number of flaws in New Zealand’s current vocational education system.

The Government have said they are committed to ensuring strong regional leadership, which offers cause for optimism. There is still so much to be determined by the establishment board, and EIT will work with the new board to make sure that decision-making is kept as close to education providers as possible.

EIT is not going to disappear. By working together on the outcomes of the reform, we are confident to be able to create a better future for vocational education in New Zealand. Lashing out with an emotional reaction to the Minister’s decisions might be initially satisfying. However, more strategic and targeted lobbying is likely to produce better results.

Our biggest threat at the moment is the agenda of scaremongering from some quarters, which has the capacity to destabilise enrolments — which are of course our lifeblood.

Lately there have been a number of comments on Minister Chris Hipkins’ education reform. Some of them expressed concerns about EIT’s future, about losing our regional autonomy, the trust from employers and jobs. Other comments asserted that EIT and regional mayors should follow the lead of SIT and Invercargill’s Mayor Tim Shadbolt in fighting planned changes to our sector up to and including legal action.

This criticism should not go unanswered.

Our regions’ leaders fought a spirited and passionate campaign on behalf of the current structure of EIT. Tairawhiti as a region, much less Hawke’s Bay, have seldom spoken with one voice and yet the regional submission to the RoVE process was not only strong, well-reasoned and logical, it was supported and signed by every Mayor from Gisborne to Central Hawke’s Bay, Hawke’s Bay DHB, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, Secondary Principals Associations from both Hawke’s Bay and Tairawhiti, Ngati Kahungunu, Ngati Porou, Chambers of Commerce, and a large number of additional letters of support were also attached. We lobbied hard then and are continuing to do so.

EIT’s successes were rightly described across every dimension, including our ability to successfully manage our finances. Our success over the last decade has been despite the current system, which has seen no real improvement in funding over that time, punitive “clawbacks” introduced and no ability to be rewarded for surpassing expectations.

The fact that we have not joined the large group of ITPs, who have required bailouts, has been brought about by our innovative and committed staff who have looked for ways of achieving more with less. We have worked with the system rather than fighting it. We run a very lean operation!

We acknowledge that the current system could not continue unchanged as even the most skilled operators would have eventually moved into the “red zone”.

Of course we would have liked to have continued to operate with the same level of autonomy that we have enjoyed since our inception. We would hope that as the establishment board begin their work, we will be able to make the case for “earned autonomy” as we and at least two other ITPs have proved our management and governance ability. We are happy that we will be able to hold on to our reserves which we will use for the benefit of the people of Tairawhiti and Hawke’s Bay. The EIT name has real worth and we feel confident that the establishment board will see that.

It is important to say that we are not averse to beneficial change. And we acknowledge that there are a number of flaws in New Zealand’s current vocational education system.

The Government have said they are committed to ensuring strong regional leadership, which offers cause for optimism. There is still so much to be determined by the establishment board, and EIT will work with the new board to make sure that decision-making is kept as close to education providers as possible.

EIT is not going to disappear. By working together on the outcomes of the reform, we are confident to be able to create a better future for vocational education in New Zealand. Lashing out with an emotional reaction to the Minister’s decisions might be initially satisfying. However, more strategic and targeted lobbying is likely to produce better results.

Our biggest threat at the moment is the agenda of scaremongering from some quarters, which has the capacity to destabilise enrolments — which are of course our lifeblood.

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