Helen Down, Chief Executive of the Hutt Valley Chamber of Commerce, says a recent business confidence survey shows the Hutt Valley businesses are struggling to get the skilled, work ready employees they need.
“Labour shortages and finding the right staff is the single biggest barrier to improving business confidence in the Hutt Valley” says Helen.
“Our region has a high concentration of science, technology, engineering and high-tech manufacturing businesses so it is important to our business community that the reforms deliver the right changes that enable our young people to access local jobs and add value to our local businesses.”
Hutt City Council has a strong interest in the reform because of its commitment to retaining jobs in Lower Hutt and the economic and social benefit that our two local polytechnics, Weltec and The Open Polytechnic bring to the region.
“Our local polytechnics are a key part of our innovative and progressive business community and have a huge role to play when it comes to solving labour and skills shortages” says Helen.
The Chamber and Council both strongly support the proposal to repurpose The Open Polytechnic as the specialist national provider of vocational distance learning using its world leading technology platform.
Mayor Ray Wallace says “As well as being the logical digital wing for the proposed NZ Institute of Skills and Technology distance learning, utilising The Open Polytechnics large Waiwhetu campus as a potential base for key elements of the new NZIST would provide a truly exciting new dimension to the Hutt Valley economy and Technology Valley vision”.
Helen notes changes to the funding model for vocational learning will be required to make learning in real life business the default model. The new funding model needs to encourage the full and meaningful integration of workplace learning with classroom and digital based learning.
“It’s also important not to lose sight of the opportunity for attracting more international students to vocational learning in the Hutt Valley and Wellington region”, says Mayor Wallace.