30 Jan 2008
Realising Youth Potential a positive step, but more work needed.
Helen Clark’s positive attitude towards youth development is welcome but structural problems need to be addressed for it to work effectively, PPTA president Robin Duff says.
Mr Duff said the Realising Youth Potential scheme unveiled by Miss Clark this morning was a positive attempt to deal with the very complex issue of disaffected youth.
“Too many solutions focus on negative and punitive measures, whereas this builds on methods that recognise the potential in our young people – methods that have already been shown to work well.
Mr Duff hoped the RYP scheme, which would see more focus on apprenticeships and the compulsory school leaving or training age lifted to 18, would be like a “turbo charged” version of the Secondary Schools’ Gateway Programme – a successful scheme that offers senior secondary students structured workplace learning.
The PPTA appreciated the collaborative focus of the scheme, which looks to work closely with employers, tertiary providers and other training organisations to build students’ confidence and skills, while making sure they had the support of secondary school as a form of “home base”, Mr Duff said.
“Partnerships are what is needed and this pilot appears to provide incentives for students rather than the negative focus that is so often associated with reluctant learners,” Mr Duff said.
“There are no silver bullets and we should approach making any radical changes with great caution and care.
“It’s about encouraging life long learning. A coercive approach doesn’t work with teenagers, however attractive it sounds,” he said.
The PPTA also welcomes the Prime Minister’s pledge to put more resources into early childhood health and behavioural issues.
“If troubled children are picked up at an early age then they are much easier to help than when they hit 13 or 14,” he said.
While the PPTA recognised the value of the RYP, there were a number of issues that needed to be addressed for it to work properly, Mr Duff said.
“By the teenage years they need extensive counselling and guidance support to make changes in their lives, and the infrastructure just isn’t there.
“We are pleased to see a timetable and a plan for the scheme, but we hope it will be finished by 2011 at the very latest. We need to work as quickly as possible to deal with staffing and resource shortages,” he said.