Community college closure ‘very sad’

Community College Southland, based in Invercargill, has closed part of its programme.

AFTER 30 years providing training and education for young people, Community College Southland will cease its main operation affecting several students and staff.

Last month, the tertiary provider announced it had decided to end its Youth Guarantee education programmes at the Menzies Building in central Invercargill.

The programme aimed to support learners in developing their own pathways towards future work and careers through a qualification at Levels 1-3 of the National Qualifications Framework.

The decision would affect the employment of seven staff and 40 students who would need to be reallocated to other institutions throughout the region.

Community College chief executive Doug Reid said the decision was not made lightly.

“This decision follows several years of poor financial performance of the Youth Guarantee contract and our inability to commit to a new term of lease required for this operation.”

The 20 students who were in the programme would continue their studies until the programme completion in August.

However, the 40 students who intended to start the programme in 2021 were to be relocated to other institutions.

Mr Reid said he was having conversations with YMCA and SIT about the matter.

“With such a long history and with staff still dedicated to assisting our young people grow and achieve, this is a very sad point to come to.

“We are in discussions with other Invercargill education providers to assist our current and prospective students carry on with their training and qualifications.”

The seven affected staff were six full-time and one part-time employee.

“We have no other opportunity for them in Invercargill – unfortunately.

“So at this stage, four of them have already found another employment and we are working with the other three to help them.”

Since 1990, the college had provided foundation education and vocational training alongside other activities, first as Southland Academy and, since 2002, as Community College Southland.

Mr Reed said the Youth Service mentoring service and Job Connection employment placement programme, which were funded through the Ministry of Social Development, would continue to be provided in Invercargill and throughout Southland.

Ministry of Education deputy secretary of sector enablement and support Katrina Casey said the Ministry was not involved in the decision to close Community College Southland’s programme.

However, it was working with the tertiary provider to support current students and those intending to start at the college this year.

“This has included meeting with other foundation tertiary providers and student support agencies to plan together what alternative programmes may be available, and what other pastoral or social support can be provided.

“We will continue to offer support for students to transition to other educational pathways.”