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Investing in Pasifika education helps Auckland’s economy

13 December 2013

Investing in Pasifika education is investing in Auckland’s economic prosperity, says leading Pasifika tertiary provider

Pasifika and Maori will make up over half of all new employees in New Zealand’s workforce within the next 16 years, but the current capped tertiary environment is hindering Auckland’s economic progress, says BEST Pacific Institute of Education, New Zealand’s largest Pasifika-focused education provider.

At today’s student graduation ceremony, which was attended by Prime Minister the Rt. Hon John Key and Minister of Social Development Hon. Paula Bennett, BEST Pacific’s Director of Pacific Education, Rachel Skudder, called for greater and more targeted investment into tertiary education for Pasifika from the Government.

“For Auckland to succeed Pasifika peoples must succeed and this means joining the dots between education and socio-economic wealth and health. In partnership with Government, we must build a ‘Pasifika Prosperity Pipeline’ which is about securing equitable achievement for Pasifika peoples at every level of the education system; experiencing 21st century education and gaining qualifications that secures employment with prospects.

“Specifically, we need increased and better prioritised government investment into tertiary education at levels 4-6 to enable Pasifika to access diploma level qualifications and progress into degrees.” says Ms Skudder.

According to Ms Skudder, capped tertiary funding is creating skills shortages and higher rates of youth (age 15-24) not in education, employment or training (NEETs).

“There are currently high levels of Pasifika NEETs, particularly in the South Aucklandarea. Earlier this year there were 13,800 Pacific NEETs out of a total 86,800 in New Zealand. While we applaud the government for their recent increased investment into the Youth Guarantee scheme, the investment is not sufficient to turn the tide for Pacific youth who are still disproportionately represented when it comes to unemployment.

“The recent international scorecard for 15 year olds highlights the broken pipeline in New Zealand’s education system and we support the call from other educational experts for a complete review of our education system. Ultimately, we want our youth to fulfil their potential and progress into higher levels of tertiary education and secure meaningful employment. To address this challenge there needs to be more tertiary places available and greater investment into Auckland’s vocational and tertiary education provision for Pasifika,” says Ms Skudder.

As part of BEST Pacific’s graduation ceremony, Prime Minister John Key presented two awards which celebrate Pasifika success in the tertiary sector and the workplace. The BEST Prime Minister’s awards were presented to Ema Pitau for Outstanding Academic Achievement and Tui Lafaele for Outstanding Workplace Progression.

“The BEST Prime Minister’s Awards align with the Government’s policies of raising achievement for Pasifika and Maori in education. The fact the Prime Minister joined us for a second time to present these awards demonstrates his commitment to both raising and celebrating Pasifika achievement. We are pleased to have his support and also to have such wonderful role models for Pasifika like Ema Pitau and Tui Lafaele,” says Ms Skudder.

Whilst the Pasifika community that BEST Pacific serve have experienced lower rates of education and high unemployment, BEST’s students are succeeding at a higher rate than elsewhere, due to BEST’s very high expectations of achievement for their Pasifika students in qualification attainment and in securing good employment, says Ms Skudder.

In 2012, over 800 graduates from BEST secured employment, which is over 70% employment success. Over 15 % of graduates went on to higher tertiary studies. Combined, this is more than an 85% success rate for all graduates - a game changer in terms of socio-economic advancement for Pasifika families. A key aspect to this success rate is an in-house employment brokerage service, BEST People Careers and Employment.

About the BEST Prime Minister’s Awards
The two BEST Prime Minister’s Awards are Outstanding Academic Achievement andOutstanding Workplace Progression. The award for Outstanding Academic Achievement recognises the achievements of a BEST Pacific Institute of Education graduate who has completed or is currently completing higher tertiary studies. The Outstanding Workplace Progression award recognises the achievements of a BEST Pacific Institute of Education graduate who has demonstrated commitment, competency and professionalism in their area of employment.

A total of eight finalists for both awards were recently assessed by a panel of judges who included Adrian Orr, CEO for the NZ Superannuation Fund, David Tua, Graham Seatter, CEO of the Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoor Pursuits Centre NZ, Richard Pamatatau, Programme Leader of Pacific Journalism at AUT University, and Innes Logan, Director of Spasifik Magazine.

The BEST Prime Minister’s Awards are an opportunity to both showcase Pasifika achievement and help drive the social and economic development of the Pasifika community nationwide. The inaugural awards were launched by Prime Minister, John Key in 2012.

About BEST Pacific Institute of Education
Using education as a platform to empower Pasifika peoples, BEST Pacific Institute of Education has helped thousands of Pasifika into higher tertiary education and employment. For over 25 years, BEST has equipped its graduates with educational and employment outcomes at a rate higher than any private training establishment in New Zealand.

Founded by CEO Anita Finnigan, BEST first opened its doors in West Auckland in 1988, offering skills based vocational training to approximately 30 students. Now, with almost 3000 students, BEST is spread across five campuses throughout the Auckland region. BEST provides an academic pipeline for Pasifika from secondary to tertiary level education. It currently delivers NCEA Level 1-3 to over 500 16-17 year olds as part of the BEST Youth Academy and over 2800 students in adult tertiary education programmes. BEST offers more than 30 tertiary vocational qualifications, comprised of national certificates, diplomas and degreed offerings also in development.

BEST continues to advocate the social and economic development of the Pasifika community nationwide. A key aspect of BEST’s success is an in-house employment brokerage service, BEST People Careers and Employment. In 2012, over 70% of BEST graduates went onto secure skilled employment and a further 15% into higher tertiary education – more than an 85% success rate.

In 2010, the BEST Pasifika Leadership Academy and was launched in conjunctionwith the University of Auckland Business School. Headed by Beatrice Faumuina, the academy was established as a means of developing the next generation of Pasifika leaders in New Zealand businesses.


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