Editorial: Growth has downside
OPINION: Believe it or not, there's a downside to a vibrant economy.
And Aoraki Polytechnic is feeling it.
A vibrant economy means more jobs - that means fewer people looking at tertiary education.
And the irony of that ... jobs look set to go at the polytech.
A proposal before staff has 41 part and fulltime jobs being replaced with 11 positions, but both the management and the union are at pains to emphasise the word "proposal".
Whatever the final outcome, it will have a significant impact on an institution which employs 170 fulltime equivalent staff, and there may be further restructuring to come.
Yet restructuring is needed, for a couple of reasons.
All tertiary organisations are under greater scrutiny and accountability - are the courses of high quality, are they relevant, are students completing them, are students going on to further education or jobs?
As taxpayers we should be grateful about that.
And that approach has seen Aoraki review everything it does and consider options, from a straight unpalatable amalgamation with a larger organisation and the resulting loss of autonomy to the path now being pursued - identifying market needs and Aoraki's strengths and then collaborating with other bodies if required.
This collaboration exists with the Otago Polytechnic and is gaining momentum with Lincoln University. Talks have also been held with the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology.
And as the polytech has adapted to this new world, and it's been quite a shake-up, the South Canterbury economy has hummed. And that's added another dimension.
In 2011 the polytechnic was down 232 students on the 2175 projected, last year it was 144 down on the 2000 anticipated and this year it looks like being another 400 down, on a projection of 1770.
Obviously, something has to give.
To do nothing would jeopardise the whole enterprise, and invite government or bigger institution snooping.
The polytech then is looking at short-term pain for hopeful long-term gain.
It is important that Timaru keeps its polytechnic. We lose enough of our young people to bigger centres already.
The local economy is humming, it would be good to have locally trained people to feed into it.
- © Fairfax NZ News