Polytechnic Pride DayYouth Affairs
Beehive Foyer, Parliament Buildings
President John Barkess, Belinda Vernon MP, ladies and gentlemen. Good morning and welcome to the Beehive and Parliament.
Thank you for your introduction John. It is a great pleasure to help you launch Polytechnic Pride Day.
Having been a Polytechnic student myself I know only too well the great things that can come out of polytechnics! And, the expertise and professionalism that is developed there.
In spite of that, to echo the words of your President, there remains a public perception that polytechnic degrees are of a lesser value than qualifications from other institutions.
Like your President I disagree. Only last week we had the Smokefree Fashion Awards parade the best of New Zealand fashion and design. The number of entries and winners from Polytechnic students and ex-students was formidable.
The qualifications gained at New Zealand polytechnics are first class and events such as the Smokefree Fashion Awards prove it.
Polytechnics have a bright future.
I am sure that solutions to things like the year 2000 computer bug will come from polytechnic students who have worked on the ground in real situations.
Last year I attended the New Zealand Youth Skill Olympic finals from which a team was picked to enter the world finals in Switzerland.
Many of the participants in those competitions are trained in polytechnics and then get to hone their skills everyday at work.
Many of those skills are very specialised, and as a result important to our economy. In order to be a successful country in international terms, we need a solid base of skilled professionals with an eye for top quality.
Those skills are ever changing and that is one of the great things about polytechnics - the variety of training available is huge. And much of it is developed alongside industry.
One of the main changes in recent years has been the recognition that learning is life long.
No job is guaranteed. Gone are the days when you are likely to leave school, polytechnic or University and get a job that you'll stick with for life.
Nowadays what is important is that you keep yourself skilled. We need to continually update our knowledge and broaden our horizons.
It's a different environment from the past but I think it's an exciting one.
Learning is lifelong, jobs aren't.
As John said in his speech, polytechnics have a very strong community focus.
Many polytechnics have grown from community bases and as a result have taken their local community with them and the essential elements of partnership have remained.
It is through this community connection that many students learn their skills. Not only are the technical skills learnt, but those of participation, communication and relationships.
Many students will also choose to get involved in their student association.
That is something I recommend.
Of course not all students are young, indeed some of them are more likely to fit in to the portfolio of my colleague Robyn McDonald, the Minister for Senior Citizens. However, it is important that regardless of age we have a say in what affects us.
Polytechnics have a proud background of involving students in decision making but we must never be complacent and ensure that we are continually lifting out sights.
All students need to be prepared for the real world.
I believe that polytechnics are in an excellent position to do this.
I wish you an excellent day and hope that your efforts instil pride in your polytechnics. I hope that you are also able to challenge the misconceptions that exist.
Polytechnics are top quality places of learning.
They are places of opportunity and diversity. They are places we should all feel proud of.
It is my pleasure to officially launch Polytechnic Pride Day.