Fri 7 Jun 2019

New Schools planned for WITT

The following is the text of a statement released this week by WITT.

Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki has announced a proposal to establish five new schools that are to have a clear alignment with the region’s new economic development strategy, Tapuae Roa.

Chief Executive John Snook said WITT is the region’s only vocational education institution and should be considered as an important community asset and an integral part of Taranaki’s economic solution as the nation searches for a “Just Transition” to a carbon zero future by 2050.   

The new school proposal was put to staff today.

Explaining the reason for the leadership structure review, Mr Snook said WITT is governed by leaders from this region – “and WITT’s success or failure is a direct reflection of the Taranaki community’s capability and competency”.

Mr Snook said the need for a tertiary institute which was geared to provide meaningful education in an environmentally friendy New Zealand was emphasised by New Plymouth mayor Neil Holdom in a Radio New Zealand report today.

“The mayor is calling for a specialist tertiary institute in Taranaki which reflects the region’s role in a transition to a carbon-neutral economy – and that is precisely what WITT is. It’s actually the only option” he said.

“ There is no other public, tertiary institution operating in Taranaki where community leadership sits on the board. It is time for WITT to deliver the vocational, research and higher education that this community wants and needs. it is time for WITT to do much better.”

Significant and long-term research, education and work opportunities for the region were unveiled by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern last month in New Plymouth.

A bill which targets zero carbon emission levels for New Zealand by 2050 was tabled in Parliament and in New Plymouth the following day the Prime Minister revealed plans for the Government to build a $27 million clean energy centre for Taranaki and provide $20 million for research.

Her announcement was made at the Just Transition Summit 2019 where the Government sought to discuss defining what a “just transition” to a low emissions future should look like and the steps required towards a new kind of economy with good, high paying jobs.

With that in mind, Mr Snook commented: “WITT must realign its business to better support the region’s economic strategy.  My desire is that WITT becomes the centre piece of tertiary education and training in the region and that we provide a legitimate opportunity to stop exporting our ‘best and brightest’ talent to other regions of New Zealand.  We know they don’t come back.”

Aside from retaining the region’s youth, he was also committed to working better with Māori as an institute “and as a region”.

“Māori are the tangata whenua of the region, and WITT is going to ask if we can enter into a deep partnership with the region’s eight iwi. We would like to support their educational, social and financial aspirations. WITT sees it as vital that it plays a lead role in improving Māori success  because a lack of education goes hand in hand with social deprivation.”

WITT already has a memorandum of understanding with Te Atiawa and Taranaki iwi.

Mr Snook said the review of the WITT leadership structure was designed to proactively ready the organisation to maximise the success of the Government’s review of vocational education (RoVE).

The plans revealed today involve creating five schools and establishing two deputy chief executive roles, including one specifically responsible for business.

“We are committed to working with our community to offer meaningful, lifelong learning, whether that is for full-time students or those who are taking part-time courses to compliment their work and career aspirations. WITT is going to provide off-job and on-job training that is relevant to both the student and the employer. Bite-sized, just-in-time learning allows for increases in productivity and for individuals and organisations to prepare for the future of work,” Mr Snook said.

The review, which refers to WITT as a “Community College”  proposes to establish a structure that will allow schools the ability to respond quickly and effectively to any changes brought about by the tertiary educational reforms.

The five proposed schools, WITT business units, would carry titles of School of Enterprise, Business and Technology, School of English, Foundation Education and Pathway, School of Nursing, Health and Wellness, School of Trade Training, Primary & Creative Industries and School of Engineering, Energy and Infrastructure.

Mr Snook said the realignment of the business units would ensure WITT is heading in the same economic direction as the region and would also ensure the Polytechnic was prepared for inevitable changes to the tertiary education landscape.

The report says within the Venture Taranaki Strategy, tertiary provision is identified as a “base enabler, and there is a real opportunity for WITT to get the Taranaki region match fit for a high-value economy.”

It argues the future of WITT depends upon its education underpinning the Regional Economic Development and the new Future of Work.

Feedback on the document, which was presented to all staff today, will be taken through to Wednesday 19 June 2019.  A final decision is expected on Friday 28 June 2019.