Budget 2022: Funding for skills training will play a key role in Northland’s pandemic recovery

Te Ahurei (General Manager) NorthTech Toa Faneva welcomes 2022 budget investment in vocational education. Photo / Provided

Northland’s biggest higher education provider hopes the Budget 2022 investment will play a key role in the region’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Unified funding of $266.9 million over four years, plus $112.7 million allocated to support vocational education reform across the country, will help ensure that NorthTec is well positioned to help ākonga (students ) get the training opportunities they need to improve their lives. , and those of their whānau, says Te Ahurei (General Manager) NorthTech Toa Faneva.

Faneva says skilled people, in all sectors, are desperately needed and that this funding will strengthen the skilled workforce.

“Investing in workplace learning is essential to building the highly skilled workforce that Northland needs.

“Our region, like the rest of the country, is facing shortages of skilled workers. Budget funding will support an increase in the number of apprentices in the trades, particularly in construction and infrastructure, including the energy sector.

Faneva said the funding was aligned with other priority training needs for the region, including healthcare – particularly rural and Maori healthcare – and primary industries like agriculture.

“Increased apprenticeships and training in all of these sectors will benefit individual learners, their employers and our communities.”

Faneva believed that the funding would enable the polytech to support equity and participation priorities, providing personalized learning approaches that meet the needs of learners and trainees wherever they are.

“It allows us to help more learners from underserved groups like Maori, Pasifika and people with disabilities to upskill through higher education.

“It will also help us support hāpu and iwi at Te Tai Tokerau in developing meaningful and innovative solutions to the needs of our communities.”

Kelly-Anne Panapa’s role as Director of Maori Success and Equity at NorthTec is to ensure that a strategic approach is taken by the organization to achieve better outcomes not just for Maori students, but to provide a broader equity perspective.

Panapa’s goal is to be aware of the role the system plays in a learner’s life and to minimize barriers for learners.

Polytech was taking a concerted systemic lens to problem-solving, Panapa said.

“Many parts of the vocational education reforms provide different expertise on some of the national issues related to the impact of Covid-19 – such as mental and financial well-being – and these add barriers to education .”

Kelly-Anne Panapa, Director of Maori Success and Equity at NorthTec, focuses on reducing barriers to education for Northland learners.  Photo / Michael Cunningham
Kelly-Anne Panapa, Director of Maori Success and Equity at NorthTec, focuses on reducing barriers to education for Northland learners. Photo / Michael Cunningham

Accessibility was one of the biggest barriers for students at Northland, Panapa said.

“[In] the economic climate in which we are in education is considered a bit of a luxury.

“We have a very large geographic region, compounded by rurality and remoteness, and in many of those places we don’t have solid infrastructure in place.

“Anyone who lives in these rural areas, and if you add in the financial hardship, the layers of Covid, it’s hard, especially for Northland, to get a good education,” Panapa said.

“One of the main drivers of the reforms is to improve accessibility, especially for our learners with disabilities.”

During Panapa’s road trip to different institutes and interviews with students across the country, she discovered that learners encounter obstacles at all stages of the system.

“Not everyone across the country gets the same deal.”

NorthTec had focused on pairing learners with mentors and adopting traditional Maori cultural philosophy and practice, Tuakana-Teina.

“We have very real involvement from the Hapū, Iwi, Maori community across the region and there is good engagement between them and government agencies to meet the needs of the communities.”

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