Jobs may go in college shakeup

LUCY TOWNEND
Last updated 09:00 21/12/2013

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Workers at Palmerston North's International Pacific College are facing an anxious Christmas following the shock announcement that an organisational restructure could see jobs axed in the new year.

The educational institute's chief operating officer, Ichizo Murakami, confirmed yesterday that IPC is undergoing a shakeup in a bid to turn around an operational deficit, but refused to say how deep the financial hole is.

"At this point we are just seeing how the company runs, essentially," he said.

"We are looking at increasing our revenue and more efficient managing of costs . . . and when the time comes next year it will become clearer."

Redundancies are on the cards and could come into effect in the new year, pending consultation with affected workers.

The institute employs more than 100 teaching and administration staff.

The Manawatu Standard understands the restructure involves workers from the finance department, recruitment, reception, student support, secretarial staff and the closing of sports programmes, including teachers.

A source, who has connections to the institute and spoke on the condition of anonymity, said staff found out about the impending changes last week.

An envelope bearing what some workers thought was a festive gift was actually news that they could lose their jobs.

"They just plonked them on their desks without a word and people were absolutely horrified; they thought it was a bonus because last year $50 was delivered in the same way . . . what a nice thing to do right before Christmas." Staff are fearful of what the future holds and whether IPC will keep its doors open, he said.

Documents viewed by the Standard comparing an operational structure from April 2012 to December 2013 reveal more support for IPC's Japan-based chairman Hiroshi Ohashi, through an assistant position based in New Zealand and a recruitment officer based in Japan, but fewer positions further down the chain, including contracting out the dining hall and maintenance services.

IPC's governing body, Japan-based Soshi Educational Group, employed Mr Murakami three years ago and tasked him with keeping the institute sustainable.

"We are trying our best, that is why we are doing this [restructure], to survive the next two or three decades," Mr Murakami said. "We hope IPC will stay on top of the hill forever."

But first the books needed to balance and student numbers boosted from 300 to more than 400.

Figures released to the Standard by IPC earlier this year show this may be hard to achieve as international enrolment numbers dwindle.

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In 2003 there were 229 international enrolments, but that dropped to 109 in 2011 and lifted to 167 last year.

IPC's recruitment director Christine Lim said the institute has international partnerships with high schools and universities helping to create pathways to Palmerston North as well as a student retention programme to keep them in the city.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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