The Chamber of Commerce are extremely disappointed with the Minister’s announcements on Thursday saying SIT has been completely undervalued – it’s clear while the Minister says the words “we’ve listened”, the reality couldn’t be further from the truth for Southland.
We have repeatedly stated our case; that we want SIT to retain its autonomy, a centralised cookie-cutter approach will not work for Southland, and SIT’s circumstances do not reflect the issues identified in the draft reform. Despite assurances we’d be listened to, SIT has been included within a centralised network that will see decisions being made about SITs operations by people from outside of Southland and is sure to see Southland’s performance in the vocational education sector suffer.
I am concerned about local job losses, as with all centralisation we would be naive to assume there won’t be substantial losses with this reform.
For staff and students the Minister has said it’s business as usual for the next while, but people want to know what’s going to happen after that. He says changes are likely, but it’s very unfair to say that to people – especially those whose jobs may be on the line – because essentially you’re saying don’t worry about it until you have to worry about it. That kind of uncertainty isn’t fair.
While the announcements have left the region feeling thrown to the side, it doesn’t spell the end quite yet. This reform still has to go through the legislative process and that’s where the Chamber see the opportunity is.
There’s still a chance for the bill to get substantially altered through its readings in parliament, to enable SIT and other high performing ITPs to retain their autonomy, local decision making and innovation. We’d hope that NZ First and the Greens hear the business case put forward by SIT – and actually listen this time – as well as lobbying MPs to give their backing to SIT.