Future still bright

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Optimism surrounds Otago Polytechnic’s Central campus as the nation waits to find out if all polytechs will be merged. Head of college Kelly Gay, who is just weeks into his role at Central Campus, talks to reporter AlexiaJohnston about what a merger could mean for the future.

 

Otago Polytechnic’s head of college in Cromwell, Kelly Gay, is confident a merger will not negatively affect local industry.

He said “there was a polytech yesterday and there will be one tomorrow” when asked what the future held for the Cromwell campus of Otago Polytechnic.

His response follows the announcement earlier this year that all of New Zealand’s 16 polytechs could be merged to form one entity.

Provisionally called the “New Zealand Institute of Skills & Technology”, the new body would manage capital and operational budgets, staffing, student and learning management systems for all polytechnics.

It would also see courses provided on a national basis.

Although the news had caused friction among some leaders of the country’s polytechnics, Mr Gay believed the future still looked bright for Central Otago.

Talking to The News just weeks into his new role, Mr Gay spoke with optimism by suggesting the positives had the potential to outweigh the negatives if the merger went ahead.

“The most important message for the local community [is] the polytech is still open for business; we shouldn’t be putting off training for the future.

“The most important message for the local community [is] the polytech is still open for business; we shouldn’t be putting off training for the future.” – Head of college Kelly Gay

“There was a polytech yesterday and there will be one tomorrow – we just don’t know what form that will be.”

Mr Gay said a “really strong response” from various groups within the sector had been “heartening”.

“A lot of polytechs have been effective in getting messages to government. They are talking now about local autonomy. So, increasingly, it sounds like there will be a centralisation of functions, but not at [a] decision-making [level].

“I think the other good thing is we probably won’t have to wait too long. The Government is moving relatively quickly.”

The worst thing that could happen was for the decision to be prolonged.

outcome, Mr Gay was still working on plans for the Central campus.

The aim was to benefit the people of Central Otago and its various employment sectors.

That would mean adding to what was already on offer and introducing new vocational elements.

“We can increase our specialist [areas],” he said.

“I think the other good thing is we probably won’t have to wait too long. The Government is moving relatively quickly.” – Kelly Gay

An example of that was adding cheese courses to expand on what was already on offer within the food sector.

A course on brewing was also on the agenda.

Mr Gay also wanted to take courses outside the classroom and into the field, both in Cromwell and beyond.

“We are about Central Otago, not just one location within that.”

He believed more could be done for the regions.

“As a sector, I think we can do a better job. There are pieces of the sector reform I think could be really good if we are cautious. We could end up with an improved system, but we don’t want to take a hatchet to the whole system.”