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University staff welcome skills forecasting action

Media Release
17 May 2002
Attention Education Reporters

University staff welcome skills forecasting action plan

The Association of University Staff (AUS) has welcomed the Government’s pre-Budget announcement of $11.6m for a skills forecasting action plan. ‘AUS has lobbied for such an approach to labour-market information consistently over the last decade,’ said AUS National President, Dr Grant Duncan.

Dr Duncan stressed that New Zealand’s university workforce, a key source of education and training for the nation’s wider workforce, urgently requires forecasting analysis. ‘The demographic student ‘bulge’ currently moving through the school sector will reach our tertiary institutions within this decade,’ said Dr Duncan. ‘At the same time our academic workforce is set for a wave of retirements – this is also occurring in countries from which New Zealand draws a significant proportion of its academic workforce. Additionally, salaries are not high enough to retain the best people, and loans and debt are discouraging young talented students from completing the higher degrees needed for academic jobs.’

Dr Duncan stated that better information about future labour-market needs is essential for long-term human-resources strategies and provision in the university sector.

He emphasised, however, that because it takes 3 to 5 years or more for a university student to graduate and become available for employment, the universities could not be expected to respond rapidly to short-term skills shortages.

‘A university education provides a broad, generic and critical approach to life-long learning. It develops the person for participation in society and employment in a variety of ways,’ said Dr Duncan.

‘The link between vocational skills and higher education needs to be viewed in a wider context. Many remarkable and creative careers have begun from educational backgrounds that may not appear to be immediately relevant to later achievements.’

Dr Grant Duncan, AUS National President, 021 680 475
Margaret Ledgerton, AUS Policy Analyst, 04 915 6695

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