The previous National Government allowed New Zealand’s vocational education system to drift so badly it has let our businesses, our young people and our communities down, and is in need of a reset, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today.
“The National Party has a lot to answer for, but Simon Bridges’ only response so far is to scaremonger and tell porkies,” Chris Hipkins said.
“His wild claims, ahead of government consultation on proposals to reform the vocational education sector, are shameful and irresponsible.
“Simon Bridges has plucked a potential job loss figure out of thin air and he should retract it or explain how he came up with it.
“It cannot be allowed to stand unchallenged. He needs to put up or shut up.
“He’s already been forced to backtrack and admit there is no ‘document’. That was a blatant fabrication.
“Simon Bridges also needs to apologise for National’s gross mismanagement of the sector over nine years.
“National was warned by officials a number of times about serious problems in the sector and the need for a strong response. They bottled it.
“New Zealand was left with a huge skills gap across a large number of sectors.
“And this government has already been forced to bail out four polytechnics at a cost of $100 million and put commissioners and change programmes in place at Te Poutini Polytechnic in Greymouth, Unitec in Auckland and at Wellington’s Whitiriea and Weltec.
“More polytechnics are at serious risk if we do not act decisively,” Chris Hipkins said.