Polytechnic stays focused on trades

SARAH JARVIS
Last updated 05:00 14/08/2014
aoraki polytech
JOHN BISSET/ Fairfax NZ
Timaru's Aoraki Polytechnic

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With student numbers down, the primary industries and trades remain a key focus for Aoraki Polytechnic.

This year, Aoraki reduced its courses run by outside providers and shifted towards delivering local courses "to better meet the needs of students, business and the local community".

"We are concentrating on the areas where students have the most likelihood of being able to walk into a job at the end of their studies, and that have the greatest impact on, and demand within, our local regions," Aoraki Polytechnic chief executive Alex Cabrera said.

The education provider's year to date revenue is below budget, reflecting the lower number of students enrolled. However, it is anticipated that the primary industry portfolio will grow from almost no Equivalent Full Time Student (EFTS) in 2012 to more than 227 EFTS in 2015.

Trades is similar, from 59 in 2013 to 90 in 2014 to 110 in 2015.

"Aoraki is in the process of transitioning into areas of priority for the region such as primary industries and trades, so our EFTS numbers do - and will - look different as we work through this process," Cabrera said.

He said the polytechnic would continue to work with community, industry, high schools, and develop flexible delivery options "to suit the way that people want to study now, and so that they can still access study while in work".

In primary industries, Aoraki's range of programmes is growing, with new offerings of both the Diploma in Agribusiness Management and Horticulture scheduled.

Provisions are being made for growth in part-time, flexible and work-based programmes of study to appeal to employed people.

Those include: weekend and evening delivery for trades, trades programmes redeveloped to three days plus two days workplace, work-based learning, cadetship programme and project-based learning.

"With very low unemployment rates, the opportunity for growth for Aoraki is more likely to be in students aged over 25 in work on part-time or flexible delivery programmes of study."

"We remain committed to continue to support our community."

The changes follow three years of deficits and redundancies but Cabrera said overall operating costs "are favourable to budget".

"The balance sheet remains strong reflecting the cash and term bank deposits held of approximately $27.4m."

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- The Timaru Herald

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