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Mindset change needed to boost New Zealanders skill set

Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Mindset change needed to boost New Zealanders skill set

Trade or profession? The two are not mutually excusive says a Massey communications specialist concerned at the misconception that young people see themselves as either doers or thinkers.

Professor Frank Sligo, from the School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing, says almost every modern-day workplace demands of its employees literacy, analytical thinking, complex problem solving and quality decision making regardless of whether they are in blue or white collar employment.

He was responding to reports from the Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation that the building industry is short of around 5000 apprentices and comments made by the Skills manager for Education Trust- COMET Auckland, Shirley Johnson, who said young people are often pushed towards university, with no thought given to other opportunities.

“In order for New Zealand Inc to compete in the global marketplace we need to advance the skills of our young people whether in trade/technical work or at university studying for the professions,” Professor Sligo says.

He noted that the country’s global competitors are investing heavily in education and training – something New Zealand needed to match.

“Greater technological complexity in all occupations is demanding higher literacy levels across the board. If we want New Zealand to remain a prosperous nation both trade and professional training need to raise their expectations of literacy ability in problem solving and continuous lifelong learning.”

“It's time to stop this kind of polarised thinking that young people are destined for either a trade or a profession - in fact the demands of literacy, analytical thinking, complex problem solving and making good quality decisions at work (based on analysis of evidence) are becoming similar in virtually every workplace,” Professor Sligo says.


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