Polytech leaders have gone into crisis mode as they find solutions for the struggling sector.

It follows a warning from the government that half of the country's 16 polytechnics will be in deficit in two years and a prediction that 80 % of them will lose money.

Fewer enrolments and increasing costs have been identified as the cause, and are expected to get worse.

The Minister of Education Chris Hipkins says the challenge now is to send out the message that vocational education, which polytechnics provide, is an important part of the future.

“Basically develop a new blueprint for what the future might look like. How we could do a better job responding to vocational education training needs throughout the country. If you look at viticulture, horticulture, forestry, all of those areas will be farming. Everybody is saying we need skilled workers and the ITP sector can deliver those, so the Polytechnics can deliver those but we need to encourage people to enrol and do them.”

Hipkins says one of the hurdles preventing growth in the polytechnic sector is the amount of red tape that stops them being flexible education providers.