Sunday, March 1, 2009

Phil Goff schmoozes with Westies

March 1, 2009, In Unison
Unitec students need to watch out for changes the National Party may make to their student loans, opposition leader Phil Goff says.
Last week Mr Goff and a group of Labour MPs visited the Waitakere campus, as well as the streets of West Auckland, to talk to people and get back into the pubic light as recent polls show their support is slipping.
Labour will be “vigilant” in making sure student loans remain interest free under the National government, Mr Goff says.
“I think that’s a real threat and students can’t be complacent about their ability to preserve interest free student loans.”
In its election campaign last year, Labour promised a universal student allowance, but with their defeat the plan was not introduced.
“I think it’s sad the students won’t get the universal student allowance which is an acknowledgment of the importance of learning,” Mr Goff says.
The MPs visited a first year nursing class where Mr Goff told the students how important they will be in the workforce when they graduate in three years.
Student Tevita Hala’api’api talked to Mr Goff about his course and found the MP “very encouraging” he says.
The MPs also meet with Unitec management to discuss enrolments and how Unitec is coping in the recession.
Dr Ede says enrolments are up and at this stage Unitec is not concerned about needing to turn anyone away, unlike Auckland University of Technology who said last week they may need to start rejecting applicants with their increasing enrolments in the recession.
Unitec offers many trade courses and Mr Goff says apprenticeships, which are usually cut in the time of a recession, need to continue so New Zealand will have qualified people in the workforce when the recession ends.
Labour want to persuade firms to take on apprentices now, so when apprenticeships end, the workers will come out skilled and the economy will be on the up, he says.
If students are denied apprenticeships, New Zealand will have “the worst of all possible worlds. Nobody will be taken on now and when the economy is on the upswing there won’t be the skilled labour to enable it to achieve to its full potential, or the individuals to achieve to their full potential,” Mr Goff says.