21 Feb 2008
OECD report useful but flawed – PPTA
The OECD report released today on jobs for New Zealand Youth will help add to the debate over the future of education in this country – but it also has some serious flaws, PPTA president Robin Duff says.
The OECD ‘Jobs for New Zealand Youth’ report focuses on the transition from school to work and makes a number of suggestions to address challenges it sees.
“It is a useful addition to the discussions about youth policy that we are having now, particularly since the Government and the National Party have both announced major initiatives in that area. Unfortunately it does not appear to show a true understanding of the New Zealand education system and instead looks at the issues through an economist’s lens,” he said.
The report criticises the lack of vocational pathways in the New Zealand secondary schooling system and does not appear to recognise that the NCEA is a deliberate move to avoid some students being funnelled off into narrow vocational pathways.
“New Zealand, unlike most other countries, believes that making such a clear distinction between ‘vocational’ and ‘academic’ is artificial and does not help students progress in the 21st century.
“At the same time schools are making big strides in providing students with opportunities to prepare for work while still at school, both through work orientated courses and through the Gateway programme.
“It also appears to ignore the successful work being done by Industry Training Organisations, both in their on-the-job training programmes and their work supporting programmes in schools.
“This report does not appear to be the result of conversations with educators,” he said.
The PPTA also strongly opposed suggestions that the minimum training wage should be reduced.
“We are trying to encourage young people to take part in work-based training and apprenticeships – why would they want to do it for less?” he said.
The report does support an increase in the school leaving age – a move the PPTA backs, but with conditions.
“In principle the PPTA agrees that the school is the appropriate home base for students as they transition towards work, because of the pastoral care and guidance they provide.
”But our support for this is conditional on there being adequate resourcing of schools to do this work. Class sizes need to be improved and more staffing is needed for the people involved in guiding students smoothly through the transition to future education or work”.
The PPTA also supported recommendations to improve the educational content of alternative education, but did not believe the current funding for alternative programmes enabled this to be achieved, he said.