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Pathways To Independence Publication Launch

Hon Steve Maharey Speech Notes

Launch Of The Skill New Zealand Pathways To Independence Publication


Thank you Adrienne for your words of introduction and welcome. May I add my welcome to you all to the peoples house.

This evening's function is about the launch of a very important, and a very timely publication ¡V Pathways to Independence ¡V and I want to talk some more about that publication in a moment.

But first I want to place this publication in the context of my portfolio responsibilities for tertiary education.

What do you think about when you see or hear the term 'tertiary education'? My sense is that for many people tertiary education evokes notions of higher learning ¡V of the academy.

And it most certainly does include that, but it also includes a great deal of other forms of education, and of provider and provision.

When the Tertiary Education Advisory Commission released their first report last year ¡V Shaping a Shared Vision ¡V they took as their point of departure two important definitions; the first of a knowledge society, or as I prefer to describe it a knowledge economy and society, and the second of tertiary education.

As the Commission noted in that very important first report:

"The development of a knowledge [economy and] society has significant implications for tertiary education, both in terms of its role, and how learning and research at the tertiary level occur. As knowledge becomes central to creating wealth and improving the quality of life, the ability to acquire, develop and use knowledge effectively becomes essential for individuals and societies".

And the Commission took the view that tertiary education should be broadly defined ¡V a definition that would include a recognition of the potentially valuable contribution of all forms of knowledge. This is what they had to say:

"The Commission has chosen, in line with its terms of reference ¡K to take the view that tertiary education should be broadly defined. This definition includes learning at all levels within public tertiary institutions (ie polytechnics, universities, colleges of education and wananga), programmes provided by private and government training establishments, business-based education, industry training, and all life-long learning beyond the compulsory school system. It thus includes both formal and non-formal education, and what is often termed 'second chance' education."

I recall a comment when that report was first to the effect that this definition would include hamburger making. I joked at the time that the person offering that observation had obviously never suffered the culinary indignity of a poorly made hamburger. The truth of the matter is that, yes, it could include hamburger making ¡V that may well be one competency among a number to be codified into unit standards and placed on the National Qualifications Framework. In terms of the title of the publication we are launching this evening, making a hamburger might well be part of an individual's pathway to independence. It also includes research at the frontier of human knowledge.

In reality tertiary education ¡V as a set of portfolio responsibilities and as the TEAC have quite correctly defined it ¡V requires a broad definition. Our tertiary education, or perhaps more correctly, our tertiary education and training system, is about higher learning, it is about what are already in many respects world class tertiary institutions and scholars. But equally, and I emphasise my use of the word equally, it is about vocational education and training ¡V the apprentice involved in work-based mentored training, or the adult worker acquiring technical or even literacy and numeracy skills; it is about second-chance education for those who have been placed on the margins of the labour market; it is about community and adult education, about the WEA and extension studies programmes.

And it is about a wide range of providers and forms of provision ¡V universities polytechnics and wananga to be sure, but private training establishments, and increasingly more and more workplaces as well.

And we cannot operate simply on the basis of a crude distinction between compulsory and post-compulsory education. Let me state quite unequivocally that Lockwood Smith's vision of a seamless education system was and is a singularly appropriate one. And it means in very practical terms that tertiary education ¡V broadly defined ¡V can and does start in the senior secondary school, with some students pursuing university level courses and others spending part of their time in the workplace acquiring the initial unit standards that will build into vocational education and training qualifications.

This year will be a very important year for tertiary education and training. It will be a year of immense opportunity for all those involved with tertiary education and training, whether as providers, or as consumers ¡V and within the latter group I want to particularly note the employers who employ those who acquire skills and knowledge acquired within the sector, and the very many private and public end-users of the research generated within the sector.

At this early stage of the year I want to make it perfectly clear that my stewardship of the tertiary education and training portfolio is about realising the potential of all parts of the sector, and not allowing any one part of the sector to dominate at the expense of the others ¡V excellence should not be confused with privilege.

Let me now turn to the excellence of this superb publication.

Pathways to Independence - Effective Youth Transitions

Pathways to Independence explores the issue of youth transitions from school to work.

It begins by reviewing the issues in a global context, using research from the OECD that looks at the transition from initial education to working life, focusing on 14 countries.

It then presents an overview of youth transition in New Zealand and highlights a range of innovative projects taking place around New Zealand, which are designed to facilitate effective youth transitions.

The initiatives featured in the report present a wide array of possibilities ¡V with learning taking place both inside and outside of schools, through community organisations and in enterprise.

In many cases, schools have stepped outside the square of traditional education to forge links with enterprise, community organisations and Local Government to add to the learning pathways that they can offer their students.

Pathways to Independence demonstrates what can be accomplished when schools, enterprise, Local Government and community organisations work in partnership with Government agencies, in this case, Skill New Zealand to develop solutions to the significant challenge of ensuring effective youth transitions.

It highlights new Government initiatives, such as the NCEA, Gateway and Modern Apprenticeships in particular. And presents new directions and enhancements to Youth Training and Training Opportunities.

It is pleasing to see that so many of the initiatives featured in Pathways to Independence have a special focus on improving the learning outcomes for young Maori and Pacific Islands people.
The issues as presented in the report

Despite increased school retention rates and tertiary participation, significant numbers of young people are still leaving school without the skills and qualifications to tap into employment opportunities.

In New Zealand, of the 54,400 people who left school in 1999, 17% per cent left with no or minimal qualifications. Statistics from the same year also showed that Maori were twice as likely as non Maori to leave school with low or no qualifications.

The result has been unacceptably high youth unemployment rates. The most recent Household Labour Force Survey for the December 2000 quarter revealed an official unemployment rate of 5.6% - the lowest for 12 years. That is something that we should celebrate. But the same survey revealed that 15.7 percent of those aged between 15 ¡V 19 in the labour market are unemployed. A figure like this gives no cause for celebration.

Strategies to build effective youth transitions to further education, training, and employment

The realities of the labour market mean that the traditional approach to education no longer guarantees all young people will succeed in the modern economy.

OECD research suggests that a fl7exible curriculum, addressing the needs of the individual is an important part of the solution.

In the New Zealand context, this translates to a better balance between a well-rounded general education, based on critical thinking, and a capacity to participate in the world of work.

The Government is supporting schools to meet the learning needs of all students through enhanced general education provision, as well as integrated work-related learning.

The Government¡¦s commitment to act in partnership with schools, enterprise and the community to address the issue of youth transitions, is clearly signalled by a number of new initiatives:

„h Education and Training Leaving Age

The Government supports an Education and Training Leaving Age framework, to ensure that all young people up to the age of 18 will be voluntarily in education, training or employment.

„h Gateway

Gateway is a new programme that addresses the need for structured work-based learning opportunities in the senior secondary school.

It allows students to participate in work-based learning, including assessment towards national qualifications and is integrated into the existing school curriculum.

Gateway is currently being piloted in 18 decile 1 ¡V 5 schools around New Zealand with an additional two schools in the process of signing contracts and another two in negotiation with Skill New Zealand. It is available to all senior secondary students in the participating schools.

Gateway aims to build positive relationships between Skill New Zealand, schools and enterprise.

Across the country, there was a very strong interest from secondary schools wishing to participate in this initiative.

„h Modern Apprenticeships

A new quality workplace learning option for 16 ¡V21 year olds which combines the best of apprenticeship traditions with innovative new features designed to make it easier for young people to take up and complete apprenticeships.

All training leads to national qualifications and young people are fully supported throughout their training by a Modern Apprenticeships Co-ordinator.

There are now over 500 Modern Apprentices officially at work around New Zealand, across a range of industries. By the middle of this year, the number of Modern Apprentices will grow to between 1300 and 1500.

The Modern Apprenticeships initiative has been received enthusiastically by young people, their parents, business and educators. Industry Training Organisations have made a significant contribution to the speedy and effective implementation of the programme.


The Secondary Tertiary Alignment Resource (STAR) funded courses increase the non-traditional and vocational pathways within the secondary school system.

STAR funds learning that is not available in the general curriculum. It gives students access to a wider range of learning, leading to credits towards nationally recognised qualifications.

„h Youth Training

Youth Training provides opportunities for young people to make their own choices about the skills they want, with individual training plans tailored to meet their individual needs.

Youth training is specifically designed for young people aged under 18, who have low or no qualifications, giving them the opportunity to gain credits towards nationally recognised qualifications.

For a number of the organisations featured in Pathways to Independence Youth Training has been the vehicle to give young people the confidence, skills and experience to make the transition to the world of work.

For the year which ended on June 30 2000, 64 percent of those who participated in Youth Training, achieved positive outcomes ¡V by either going on to employment or to further training. These numbers are impressive not only from a New Zealand perspective, but from an international one as well.

Conclusion - Collaborative partnerships and future directions

Pathways to Independence highlights how positive outcomes occur when organisations, schools, the community and Government agencies, in this case, Skill New Zealand, work in partnership.

This Government is committed to strategies that enhance these partnerships, and new ones, to help provide young New Zealanders with pathways to independence and full participation in the knowledge society.

Contact: Michael Gibbs, Press Secretary, (04) 471 9154 or (025) 270 9115,
e-mail: michael.gibbs@parliament.govt.nz.

Some examples of initiatives from the report

Work Exploration ¡V Taieri High School working in partnership with Fisher & Paykel.

- A long established partnership between Fisher & Paykel and Taieri High School in Mosgiel provides an exciting model of how industry can expand students¡¦ learning horizons, and is delivering impressive results for able, motivated students.

- This partnership sees 15 or so senior students give up a week of their holidays to work on various projects at Fisher & Paykel under the direction of a company sponsor

Partners New Zealand Trust

- Dunedin-based education consultant, Elizabeth Deuchrass is working with businesses and schools around the country to establish mutually beneficial relationships.

- Skill New Zealand has contracted with the Partners New Zealand Trust to set up regional networks, or clusters, of businesses with a mutual interest in partnership activities. Elizabeth Deuchrass facilitates this project, which involves more than 90 secondary schools.

Hastings Boys¡¦ High School sports academy

- At Hastings¡¦ Boys High School, a sports academy and a range of transition programmes are turning an increasing number of students into achievers.

- The sports academy is a 7th form option and the programme is affiliated with the Auckland University of Technology, allowing students to make a head start on a recognised tertiary qualification in the sports management field.

Alternative Education programme

- A consortium of eighteen Napier and Hastings secondary schools have appointed Skill New Zealand to help manage an alternative education programme in the region.

- The programme targets students most at risk of dropping out of education. They are referred by their school, Non-Enrolment Truancy Services or other Government and Community agencies.

Linking transition paths with Iwi development

- Turanga Ararau, a Gisborne-based private training establishment catering for up to 200 students each year, is improving transition prospects for Maori youth by offering education and training options that are closely linked to local iwi industry developments.

- Learners train and gain workplace experience in areas such as forestry, seafood, farming and horticulture.

City of Manukau Education Trust (COMET)

- The City of Manukau Education Trust was set up in 1999 by the Manukau City Council to deliver education programmes and policies to help reverse the alarming statistics about the number of students who leave school and disappear from economic activity.

- The Trust has several areas of strategic focus, but has given its immediate attention to school / work links.

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