NMIT cuts short-sighted

The National Government’s decision to cut more than $3-million from the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology, at a time when local businesses are crying out for skilled workers, is short-sighted and silly, says Grant Robertson, Labour’s Tertiary Education spokesperson.

In 2011 NMIT’s government funding was cut by $3.1-million - a 12% drop on the previous year.  15 full-time staff lost their jobs as a direct result of the funding cuts.  NMIT faced further funding woes last year as a result of cuts to foundation learning programmes.

Across the country more than $50-million was stripped from funding for regional polytechs in 2011. Last year another $30 million was cut away when the Government handed foundation courses over to the private sector.

Grant Robertson is in Nelson today, as part of Labour’s ‘Save Our Polytechs’ campaign.  He will meet with students and staff at NMIT, as well as Mayor Aldo Miccio, the Nelson Tasman Chamber of Commerce and local unions. 

“Last year the Nelson Regional Economic Development Agency found a 60% increase in the number of local businesses struggling to find skilled workers compared with 2009.  Given National’s polytech cuts, sadly I’m not surprised.

“NMIT plays a vital role in the region’s economy, and National’s cuts can only reduce opportunities for people to get the skills they need to get ahead.

“And there is a real need for those training opportunities. The unemployment rate in the Nelson/Tasman/West Coast region went up by 1.3 percentage points in the last three months of 2012, to 5.8%.  And last year 1,348 people from Nelson and Marlborough gave up on building a future here, and left permanently for Australia.

“National’s cuts are counterproductive.  The people of Nelson and Marlborough need opportunities, and the local economy needs a skilled workforce.  That’s why Labour is absolutely committed to strengthening our polytechs,” says Grant Robertson.