Otago providers of a tertiary education programme worry
the Government's decision to scrap it puts jobs in jeopardy and
comes at the worst possible time.
The Government-funded foundation-focused training
opportunities (FFTO) programme will be axed and replaced with
different courses from January 1.
The change was announced yesterday by Tertiary Education,
Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce and Social
Development Minister Paula Bennett.
They claimed the 26-week FFTO courses were failing to meet
targets and replacement programmes would more effectively
help beneficiaries and young people get work.
Last year, 28% of FFTO participants nationally were employed
after their training and 17% undertook further education.
New programmes included short-duration industry training for
beneficiaries, English language courses, intensive literacy
and numeracy courses, foundation education for 20- to
24-year-olds, and an extension of the Youth Guarantee
programme for 18- and 19-year-olds.
''The Government needs to constantly refine our approach to
ensure we are meeting the needs of young people,
beneficiaries and employers,'' Mr Joyce said.
But those delivering FFTO in and around Dunedin said they
were exceeding targets and had waiting lists for people keen
The change came without warning to providers, who had to
prepare staff for potential funding cuts.
''This is going to have huge local consequences,'' Methodist
Mission director Laura Black said.
Providers had little time left in the calendar year to find
out what impact the changes would have and ''pull new courses
together'', she said.
''It's really late in the year to be making a change this
significant. It's really worrying; it's a real rush job.''
Ms Black and other Otago providers spoken to yesterday were
worried the region would lose its existing level of
''We have one of the highest unemployment rates in the
country and I worry they will pull FFTO money out from here
and it will end up as Work and Income training up north.
"If money goes up north, that will be 300 or 400 people in
Dunedin who won't have training options because the money's
gone,'' Ms Black said.
Kokiri Training Centre chief executive Lynette Collins-Watson
said the changes would have significant ramifications, but it
was too soon to know exactly how the business would be
Dunedin Training Centre manager Callum Hayde said he would be
looking to minimise the impact on his business, although the
Youth Guarantee extension was positive.
Tokomairiro Training manager Lynda Allan said FFTO programmes
were in demand and hugely successful in Milton, and changes
''It's extremely up in the air. It's a huge concern.''
Labour's Dunedin North MP David Clark said existing FFTO
funding was worth about $1 million to the city and it would
be a ''huge blow'' if it was not replaced.
Mr Joyce said there would be national funding changes with
the winding down of FFTO, but there was no agenda to move
money in any direction.
''The exact amount to be provided in each region will be
determined by regional demand for places. We are not
expecting big fluctuations in regional demand through these
changes because the number of people on benefits is not
suddenly increasing or decreasing in each region,'' he said.
Other education changes announced by Mr Joyce yesterday
included free foundation-level courses for those under 25
years of age, which was aimed at youth without level 1 or 2
From next year, participants could obtain level 2
qualifications without paying fees, whether they were at
secondary school, in the Youth Guarantee programme or at a
private tertiary institution.