New Tertiary Education Minister, Penny Simmonds says Te Pūkenga will be replaced with eight to 10 individual institutions, and hopes legislation will be in place within eight months.
The Government has begun the process of disestablishing the organisation, which combined 16 polytechnics and nine workplace training providers on 1 January this year, including those offering hospitality and tourism courses.
The organisation was advised of the move on December 7, learning it was no longer Government priority to centralise vocational training and education, asking Te Pūkenga to review its number of jobs.
Simmonds, pictured top right, said although a lot of money had been spent in terms of employing people at head office, Te Pūkenga was not delivering its promised efficiencies.
“In essence the institutions are still delivering the training, they are still doing their own finance, their own payroll, their own admin, their own IT.
“So they have been continuing to run and deliver education and training while this big bloated head office and lots of money being spent on consultants, had been writing strategies and preventing the individual institutions from making sensible choices and sensible decisions.”
The new government was looking at keeping eight to 10 institutions across the country with some shared services where it made sense, she said.
“What we are talking about is a big heavy bloated head office that slows down decision-making and stops innovation and stops communities having a say on what goes on in their local polytechnic.”
Consultation on which eight to 10 institutions will remain needs to get underway, she said.
“We need to be talking to those campuses, we need to be talking to those communities and those industry leaders.”
Decisions about things like staffing would be done at a regional level, she said.
“They know the staffing levels that are needed, they will know what their budget can afford. It won’t be someone in the centre making that decision based on no knowledge of what’s needed in that region.”
There was a need to see what was financially viable and met community’s needs, she said. A fast process was needed given “it had been a long convoluted period of anxiety and uncertainty” for staff,” said Simmonds.
Simmonds said she hoped the legislation to make the change would be in place within six to eight months.
She denied there would need to be rebranding, saying polytechnics already had their own branding and did their own marketing and it would just be removing the Te Pūkenga branding.
Centralising polytechnics under Te Pūkenga had not improved the debt situation, she said.
She said under the previous system of individual polytechnics it was not competing against each other which put them into debt.
“It has been small pockets of institutions that weren’t financially viable because they were too small and then in other cases larger ones that were not operating sensibly and were not operating well.”