Data showing all but one regional polytechnic had its funding cut by millions of dollars is evidence that regional economies are being hurt by the National government says Labour's Economic and Regional Development spokesperson David Cunliffe.
"Polytechs play a crucial role in up-skilling New Zealanders in the regions so they can gain and sustain employment and develop the economies within their own communities.
"National has established a reputation for slashing education budgets, so it will come as little surprise that polytechs have been in the government's firing line too.
"These figures show the cuts to regional polytechs have been totally disproportionate. Between 2010 and 2011 metropolitan techs had their funding cut by 1 per cent, while the budgets of regional techs were savaged by 11 per week over the same period.
"That's $32 million ripped out of regional communities. It means far fewer opportunities for regional people to get the skills and knowledge they need to gain local jobs and sustain their home areas.
"Regional polytechs are more in touch with regional economies because they are part of the local communities. Metropolitan polytechs have many excellent programmes but it's not realistic, for example, to deliver practical farming or forestry education in city centres.
"With these cuts the Government has ignored the contributions that regional economies make to the nation's prosperity. National has essentially washed its hands of regional economic development and the aspirations of regional people.
"National has never appointed a Minister for Regional Development, yet this was a senior portfolio in the last Labour government. They've also abolished Rural Affairs. This cynical approach of taking regional economies and people for granted simply must stop.
"Steven Joyce - the architect of these cuts as the minister responsible for economic development, jobs and skills education - needs to front up to regional communities and commit to restoring basic equity for their economic development," said David Cunliffe.
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