Friday, June 14, 2024
HomeSpeaker's CornerThe role of tourism businesses in supporting polytechnic institutes

The role of tourism businesses in supporting polytechnic institutes

It’s no secret that New Zealand’s polytechnic institutes are struggling – this year has seen talk of a mega-merger, and some silence from the Ministry of Education on what other changes are being proposed. Some polytechs have been struggling financially, and there have been reports that polytechnic student enrolments are dropping in the thousands.

It’s a pretty clear to us at Canopy Tours that at least some of the responsibility of supporting the polytechnic institutes lies with the tourism industry, given these institutes provide us with the high-quality tourism graduates that we need to keep the industry running sustainably.

Not all roles within the tourism industry will need a qualification, but it’s certainly to the benefit of the tourism operator when a new employee has some formal training. A tourism graduate will often have a more well-rounded robust understanding of the industry as a whole rather than siloed knowledge of specific activities. This is beneficial in many ways, notably in a wider understanding of health and safety, marketing, hospitality, business knowledge and an awareness of international cultures.

Our 16 polytechnic institutes are where most of our tourism graduates come from – given that 12 out of 16 of these institutes offer tourism as a course of study. In 2018, only 1.5 per cent of all tertiary students were recorded as studying tourism. Despite this, the tourism industry employs around 14 per cent of all jobs in New Zealand.

We can leave the fate of the polytechs in the hands of the government departments that are ultimately responsible for them, or we can choose to act as individual businesses and provide support where we can. This can be in many forms – acting as responsible key stakeholders, providing advice, engaging with industry activities, maintaining important relationships with key institutes, advocacy, whatever your business can afford to provide.

There are clear benefits to this, but the most important is the benefit to the tourism students who can study tourism qualifications at strong polytechnic institutes in regional areas that offer studies that you just can’t learn in cities. You’d be hard pressed to teach a student glacier guiding in Wellington or Auckland. Supporting, at the very least, regional polytechnics will be a clear directive for us at Canopy Tours going forward.

Supporting our polytechnic institutes is just one of the many areas we as tourism businesses need to invest in going forward, to solidify the future of our ever-growing industry.

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