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Business/Ed Partnership Needs Strengthening

· Business – Education Partnership Needs Strengthening
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· Barriers to education need lowering – not raising.
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· Michael Barnett, Chief Executive of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce was responding to a call by Economic Development Minister Jim Anderton that business groups distance themselves from the Education Forum suggestion that students should pay more for tertiary education.
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· “I have some sympathy for where Jim Anderton is coming from,” said Mr Barnett. “He has correctly picked up a message coming from business that we have a major skills shortage in this country.”
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· However, the issue for business is not just about the cost of tertiary education, but also the appropriateness of the courses being offered.”
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· More than 90% of businesses are small-medium, and employing around 20 people who are required to be multi-skilled and with flexible attitudes and regard for all facets of the business.
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· The cost of tertiary education can be interpreted as an investment, both by the person taking a particular course and the country seeking to ensure businesses have available a sufficient pool of employable and skilled professionals and trades people.
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· Both Government and business groups need to ask whether they are doing enough to ensure education institutions are offering the right mix of courses needed by a small-medium business.
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· He noted that Australia has a Ministry of Small Business, through which issues are driven and communicated, such as compliance cost mitigation and ensuring education institutions are interfacing with the needs of the small-business sector.
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“Rather than distancing ourselves from the Education Forum, the small-business sector needs to raise its advocacy on the practical support the tertiary sector can provide to help get lift-off in building a bigger, better performing economy.”

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