Joined forces: Wellington's polytechs now part of new vocational institute

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The country's new mega polytechnic, the New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology, has held its inaugural meeting.

While the new institute will eventually take over 16 polytechnics across the country, CEO of both Whitireia and WelTec, Mark Oldershaw, says for now, students will not notice a difference.

"We've got a new governance structure.

In terms of interactions with students, in terms of staffing, in terms of the courses we are currently offering, in terms of the continuation of those courses there is absolutely no change.

They will walk away with a WelTec or Whitireia qualification.

That's really important to us, that brand recognition, and the pride the students have in terms of enrolling in both of those institutions."

The new governance structure meant the polytechnics had moved from having ministerial appointed councils to a board, with Whitireia and WelTec sharing one.

The polytechnics would be considered subsidiaries of NZIST until the end of December 2022.

"Over the next 2½ years we will see a consolidation of all providers in all vocational education."

Oldershaw took up the role of chief executive on April 1, the same day as the merger, moving from the deputy CEO role at the Eastern Institute of Technology in Hawke's Bay.

One thing he felt was important, both in his previous role at EIT and in his new role, was that vocational training institutions were able to provide what was needed for their region.

"We pushed it at EIT, and I know WelTec, Whitireia and the Wellington region have done the same as well.

"From a polytech's perspective it is the ability to ensure they are agile enough to react to their regional needs.

"The regional needs of the Greater Wellington region are a lot different from the needs of Southland, are a lot different from the regional needs of South Auckland, a lot different from the regional needs to Taranaki."

He said that would be particularly important in a post-coronavirus New Zealand.

"I suspect it's going to lead to a lot of retraining needs, a lot of new training needs, and a lot of new course provision."

The governing council's first meeting was chaired by Murray Strong.