$18.9m pumped into CPIT for trades

19:25, Oct 03 2013

An $18.9 million funding boost will allow the Christchurch Polytechnic and Institute of Technology (CPIT) to stretch its trades training to cater for another 1000 students a year.

Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce yesterday announced the cash injection to support the growing demand for skilled workers for the Canterbury rebuild.

CPIT council chairwoman Jenn Bestwick said trades participation had increased 50 per cent over the last three years, from building and plastering through to electrical engineering and plumbing.

Training spots were at capacity with about 2300 trades students - or 927 fulltime equivalent students - but the new funding meant specially designed buildings could be built to cater for just under half of that again.

"It's responding to industry, and some workforce projections from Cera."

Funding would go directly into the Trades Innovation Institute campus in Sullivan Ave, with construction ready to begin to allow for more students starting from 2014. New learning spaces would be built to replicate work sites so students were equipped for real-world working environments.

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Acting CPIT chief executive Judith Brown welcomed the Government support, saying it would help with growth in trades and contribute to the larger campus development plans, with new buildings and work that carries through to 2022.

Joyce said CPIT had a comprehensive redevelopment plan exceeding $100m, plus insurance, to rebuild and renovate its campuses. The additional money would allow it to focus on the additional demands in trades.

But it needed Government assistance too, he said.

"The CPIT expansion is a well thought out, practical solution, which meets the short-to-medium term need of increased trades training, as well as being flexible to meet the longer-term training needs of the region."

The polytechnic's expanded facilities will be fully operational and ready for students by January 2015, with some smaller facilities able to be used next year.

Joyce's announcement came a day after he revealed the number of members sitting on university governing councils will be cut from 20 to 12.

University of Canterbury registrar Jeff Field said it approached the Government in November asking for a change.

Under the university's proposal, there would be no more representatives from the Combined Trade Unions, the Employers' Federation and requirements to have certain staff and students would be reduced to the minimum number.

The Press