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Students Urged To Carefully Consider Study Options

26 January 2004 MEDIA RELEASE

Secondary School Students Urged To Carefully Consider Study And Career Options As Skill Shortages Climb

With the new school year staring this week, the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) is urging students to give serious consideration to the study choices they make and the careers their qualifications will lead them towards.

The Chairman of the TEC, Dr Andrew West, says the country is facing areas of growing skill shortage and it is vital high school students understand the changing nature of the workforce and the skills needed so their studies lead towards careers that benefit both themselves and society.

“New Zealand is dependent on having sufficient people with the right skill mix to power our businesses and industries. It would appear we don’t have the best mix at the moment,” said Dr West.

“There are a number of reasons for this, but a significant one is our society’s attitude to qualifications. Many parents want their children to have a secondary school education that leads to a degree. While that may be a reasonable expectation, we need to ask - is that always in the individual’s best interests and how many graduates does this country need?”

“There are serious and growing skill shortages in many trades and technical areas, while more than half the approximately 300,000 people undertaking tertiary education are studying at degree level or above. Having a high percentage of the population with degrees does not necessarily lead to increased economic prosperity, although it may produce beneficial social skills.

“Many of our graduates may have to undertake work which does not require a degree or, to use their qualification, they may need to go overseas.

“It is important that both secondary school students and their parents be encouraged to view a study path which leads into vocational, instead of academic, education as a more respected option. The choice to take high school courses, which will help lead into a trade needs to be promoted as an attractive option. If we are serious about solving skill shortages we need to address these issues, especially with the prospect of our workforce shrinking after 2021,” said Dr West.

ENDS

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