Otago providers of the Government-funded foundation-focused
training opportunities (FFTO) programme are united in their
plea for support.
They have outlined their concerns about the Government's
decision to scrap the programme in a document sent to Dunedin
Mayor Dave Cull and MPs Michael Woodhouse, Clare Curran,
David Clark and Metiria Turei.
All but one of the six providers operated in Dunedin,
supplying subsidised education to beneficiaries and others
deemed most likely to need long-term welfare support.
Providers were worried the cessation of FFTO funding had come
at short notice and would leave them cash-strapped until
replacement programme funding arrived.
They claimed the loss of FFTO funding was a loss of $1.5
million for Dunedin, which would mean people would lose jobs
and others would be left without training.
That concern has been echoed by Mr Cull and Dr Clark.
But the Government was adamant replacement courses would have
more people, including those in Dunedin, appropriately
educated for work. Mr Woodhouse backed that sentiment.
In their plea to the mayor and MPs, providers requested an
assurance from the Government that the Otago region would
continue to receive funding.
They also wanted consideration of the ''unintended
consequences'' of the decision to stop the FFTO programme,
which had been in place for about two years.
Providers asked for an extension of funding so students who
had started six-month courses could finish them, and so
providers had time to apply for replacement funding.
Mr Woodhouse said he was confident the FFTO programme would
be replaced with something better, enabling more people to
''Everybody should be focused on what programmes are being
funded and how the providers in this city can create
programmes that are going to work for our unemployed and
under-trained, which is ultimately what we're all wanting to
"If FFTO isn't achieving that, it's quite appropriate for the
Government to take its funds to programmes that are
working,'' he said.
Mr Woodhouse sent the providers' request to Tertiary
Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce for
Dr Clark said he was pleased the Government was at least
considering the concerns of Otago providers and the impacts
of its decision to end the FFTO programme.
''Time will tell whether it [the Government] is willing to
show good faith to the trusted local providers.''
He said the real problem was a lack of jobs for foundation
training graduates, regardless of which specific courses were
A spokesman for Mr Joyce said the changes were about ensuring
there were more effective education and training programmes
to help beneficiaries and young people get into work.
Government-funded places in those programmes would be
determined by regional demand, he said.
''We are not expecting big fluctuations in the amount of
total provision in each region through these changes, because
the number of people on benefits is not suddenly increasing
or decreasing in each region.''
The Ministry of Social Development and the Tertiary Education
Commission were working with providers in all regions,
including Otago, to manage the transition from FFTO to other
programmes starting next year, the spokesman said.