Free tuition for laid-off staff

Aoraki Polytechnic has axed fees for 129 Summit Wool Spinners staff from Oamaru made redundant at the start of the month.

The devastating blow rocked the small town after the Japanese owners of Summit announced the factory had been sold to Canterbury Spinners, a Godfrey Hirst subsidiary. It will re-hire only a "skeleton" crew.

Aoraki Polytechnic communications manager Bronwyn Hargraves confirmed that the polytechnic had offered support to Summit Wool Spinners staff who wanted to retrain by allowing them to enrol in any course with no student fee.

"This offer includes courses in both Oamaru and Timaru. Redundant staff who wish to retrain in Timaru can use a free bus that runs daily between Oamaru and the Timaru campus at no cost to students."

The polytechnic has also offered free job-seeker training including career advice, CV writing and interview skills to Summit Wool Spinners staff.

"We are currently working with the management team at Summit Wool Spinners to ensure staff affected by redundancy are made aware of these offers and some have already contacted us to discuss their options."

Summit finance manager Ricky Hammond-Tooke said the company welcomed the support offered to employees by Aoraki.

"It's a very generous offer to waive tuition fees and to offer courses in Oamaru so participants don't need to travel to Timaru.

"Many Summit employees are already highly skilled but the opportunity to take their skills to the next level or transfer their skills with some additional training, or totally retrain, should be considered by employees, especially in conjunction with the generous offer of no tuition fees."

Canterbury Spinners lost its Christchurch factory in the February 2011 earthquake. The Oamaru Summit plant had been on the market for two years.

The Timaru Herald