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Work Skills A Vital Ingredient In Qualifications

Work skills a vital ingredient in modern qualifications, says Maharey

Students and tertiary education providers should be including work-skills and on-the-job experience in their qualifications, says Associate Education (Tertiary Education) Minister Steve Maharey.

Speaking to the New Zealand Association for Cooperative Education conference on Education and Work Partnerships for the Knowledge Economy this afternoon, Steve Maharey said it is vital that modern qualifications include a clear focus of developing learners' employability. The government regards developing greater opportunities for co-operative education - applying learning in a workplace setting - as an important part of the tertiary education reforms programme.

Steve Maharey said that ensuring that skills learned in tertiary education are relevant to a person's working life cannot simply be separated off as 'vocational education and training' these days.

“It is important that all post-school courses and programmes are relevant to the learners' needs - and this needs to factor in what job skills graduates are going to need to apply their learning in the world of work.

“This message is starting to become widely accepted across the whole tertiary education sector.

“Participants in workshops on the Draft Tertiary Education Strategy which is currently being finalised emphasised the importance of qualifications fostering generic skills. The review of industry training conducted last year also drew the same conclusions.

“The challenge is to find ways to appropriately integrate work-related learning into existing qualifications. Two new popular government programmes - Snap! and Gateway - are already doing this and we want to further build up a menu of other options so that including work-skills into qualifications becomes the norm.

- Snap! was a pilot programme run over the summer to promote student employment and to expose students to valuable work experience. Snap! also helped business to overcome skill shortages. A full evaluation of Snap! will be considered in May and will include recommendations on how to proceed;

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- Gateway provides opportunities for senior school students to participate in learning towards national qualifications in real workplaces, and have that learning integrated with their wider courses of study. In its first year it catered for over 1,000 students in 24 schools, and involved over 200 employers. An evaluation released on Wednesday found a high level of endorsement for Gateway from the three main participant groups - employers, students, and schools.

“The tertiary sector will have to become increasingly adept at anticipating the skill needs of tomorrow’s labour market and needs to substantially reduce the time-lag between skill identification and work-ready graduate.

“Greater connection between our economy and society and the tertiary education through the use of cooperative education partnerships is an important tool to meet these skill needs,” Steve Maharey said.


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