Trades training uptake benefits polytechnic by $3.5m

Otago Polytechnic chief executive Megan Gibbons. Photo: ODT files
Otago Polytechnic chief executive Megan Gibbons. Photo: ODT files
A rush to take up trades training has helped deliver an extra $3.5million to Otago Polytechnic’s bottom line.

Otago Polytechnic chief executive Megan Gibbons said that an unforeseen increase of 384 equivalent full-time students (EFTs) this year had brought in about $1million in student fees and $2.5million in government funding.

Dr Gibbons said the Government’s Targeted Training and Apprenticeship Fund (TTAF), which pays the costs of learners of all ages to train or enter vocational education, was a big factor behind the increased enrolments.

"Particularly in the primary and construction industries, there has been a large growth in the Semester 2 programmes following Covid and the announcement of this TTAF funding by the Government," she said.

As of September, there were 5331 EFTs enrolled at the polytechnic, up from a forecast of 4947 EFTs.

Enrolments in primary industry programmes such as horticulture and apiculture, as well as a rise in pre-trade (level 3) construction, led the increases.

The polytechnic was investigating ways to manage demand for these programmes for 2021.

In June, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced courses and training in construction, agriculture and community work would be free for the next two and a-half years under the TTAF scheme to help with New Zealand’s Covid-19 recovery.

All apprenticeships, including those outside the targeted areas, would be eligible for fees support, the Government said.

Dr Gibbons reported at this month’s board meeting the polytechnic’s $5,867,000 net operating surplus was $3,742,000 favourable to September this year in large part because of increased enrolments.

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