Marlborough Inc speaks against education reforms

‘Marlborough Inc.’ has presented a single submission to the Government on its consultation on the proposed reform of vocational education. Mayor John Leggett said the Council consulted with a wide range of parties from across Marlborough in preparing its submission.

“The proposed reforms risk reducing the presence and positive impact of institutes of technology and polytechnics in the regions,” he said. “This is of particular concern for Marlborough, as we host a satellite campus of the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT), which has been very successful. Whilst we understand the drivers for change at the national level, the risk for Marlborough is that any rationalisation of NMIT’s activities in Nelson might threaten the future existence of the campus here in Blenheim.”

Leggett said that the Government needs to consider Marlborough as a region in itself, rather than as part of a wider Top of the South group with Nelson-Tasman, because there are significant differences between the two areas.

“For example, Marlborough is the obvious location for a national Centre of Vocational Excellence focusing on viticulture and winemaking.”

Almost 80 percent of New Zealand’s wine cultivation and manufacturing takes place in Marlborough, with the region home to over 140 wine companies, 500 growers, 4,850 direct, full-time equivalent employees, and 28,000 hectares of grapes, and its growth is continuing.

“NMIT, the Marlborough Research Centre and Bragato Research Institute are already in the process of creating a Marlborough Hub of Excellence for viticulture and oenology, located at the NMIT campus in Blenheim. The Hub will host the Bragato Research Institute, as well as Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand, Plant and Food Research’s Viticulture and Oenology Group, and Wine Marlborough, the regional body representing the Marlborough industry.”

NMIT’s Marlborough campus hosts wine-related tertiary qualifications, up to a three-year Bachelor of Viticulture and Winemaking (NCEA Level 7). This academic year, NMIT’s viticulture-related enrolment was 120, equating to 50 full-time equivalent students, including 31 from overseas, primarily China.

“The reform of the vocational education sector could result in improved educational outcomes for residents and foreign students, as well as improved labour market outcomes for employers and employees, but we want any changes to current tertiary and vocational education structures to enhance the delivery of vocational education in Marlborough. This includes any changes to NMIT and its campus in Blenheim, and to the various industry training organisations here too.”