27 March 2019
The Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) is a cornerstone of Southland’s wellbeing – and merging it into a single national entity would be a disaster, the Southland Chamber of Commerce says.
Chamber CEO Sheree Carey said SIT’s importance to the region’s future could not be understated, and its credentials were impeccable.
“The SIT Zero Fees scheme and the region’s embracing of international education are playing a significant role in transforming a region that had been in steep decline into a prosperous, dynamic, vibrant and diverse place where opportunities abound and potential can be fulfilled.”
The Chamber and SIT worked together in a complementary manner across many partnerships and initiatives, she said.
The Chamber surveyed its members on the Government proposal to merge SIT and other NZ polytechnics into a single entity called the New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology.
Chamber members overwhelmingly backed SIT in a survey on the proposed reform of vocational education – with 95% of respondents opposed to a merger, Carey said.
Three quarters of survey respondents (74%) say they have regular interactions with SIT through the likes of upskilling employees, placement of interns, and sponsorship.
Two-thirds (67%) of respondents say they have employed an SIT student or graduate.
They said SIT was responsive to the needs of employers, provided skilled and productive graduates and was a trusted community leader in Southland.
Carey said members saw SIT as unique, extremely successful and a beacon for the tertiary education sector.
They believed a merger would destroy the integration achieved and innovation displayed through SIT’s special place in the Southland landscape, Carey said.
SIT played a huge part in the community through sponsorships and involvement in business, cultural, arts and sports events.
Another key message from the survey was that SIT was crucial to bringing young people to the region, and retaining them.
The Chamber and SIT, as one of the region’s largest employers, have contributed to and are significant supporters of the Southland Regional Development Strategy, which has the goal of attracting 10,000 more people to Southland by 2025.
SIT’s economic impact on the Southland economy was estimated to be $45.7 million in GDP, and the employment of approximately 740 FTEs in the region. Nationwide those figures were an estimated $85 million in GDP and the employment of approximately 890 FTEs.
Carey said the Chamber’s submission on the Government proposal gave further weight to the already overwhelming evidence around SIT’s quality delivery of vocational education Southland.
“SIT equips people with the knowledge and skills to be effective industry participants, and the broader benefits achieved through its integration with the business and wider community make it a cornerstone of our regional wellbeing,” she said.