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Review Of Training Opportunities & Youth Training

2 May 2002

Government Announces Decisions On Review Of Training Opportunities And Youth Training

Social Services and Employment and Associate Education (Tertiary Education) Minister Steve Maharey has released the Government’s decisions arising out of the Review of the Training Opportunities and Youth Training programmes.

Training Opportunities and Youth Training are programmes targeted at people with low or no qualifications and, for Training Opportunities, who have histories of unemployment. Approximately 22,000 people will participate in Training Opportunities this year, with 13,000 young trainees participating in Youth Training.

“This Review provided an opportunity to consider the objectives for these programmes, how well they are working, and explore changes that might improve their responsiveness and effectiveness. The Review took place against the backdrop of the Government’s interlinked social and economic development strategies, and the programme of tertiary education and training reforms.

“The Review Team has made a number of recommendations. These reflect three key directions for the future of these initiatives:
 that programme delivery should be flexible to meet the changing needs of learners and the labour market;
 that programmes should be better integrated within the range of educational opportunities and employment assistance, with better coordination between government agencies; and,
 that programme outcomes should be better specified to focus on sustainable employment, and/or further education and training.

“I want to make particular mention of the contribution that providers of Training Opportunities and Youth Training make. The Review team was very impressed with provider dedication and commitment to meeting the needs of disadvantaged learners.

“I welcome the Team’s recommendations, and Cabinet has this week endorsed the Team’s directions and decided to move swiftly to implement the changes necessary to achieve the flexibility, integration, and focus on outcomes.

“The Review Team has done a superb job – and I thank Sally Munro, Tina Ratana, Liz Tanielu, Ngapo Wehi, Geoff Woolford, and officials from the Department of Labour, the ministries of Social Development and Education, and Skill New Zealand for the work that they have done.

“The Government’s Tertiary Education Strategy, which I will release shortly, emphasises the importance of raising foundation skills and supporting foundation education and training initiatives. The Tertiary Education Commission will be tasked with continuing to develop this important element of our social development and post-compulsory education and training initiatives,” said Steve Maharey.

The full review report will be available from 16 May from Skill New Zealand and the Ministry of Education.


Attached:

 Executive Summary and Recommendations arising out of the Report of the Review Team

 Summary of Government decisions

Building Futures, Te Aro Whakamua – Review of Training Opportunities and Youth Training

Report of the Review Team

Executive Summary

This review has been carried out in the context of government initiatives aimed at the development of a more inclusive, knowledge-based economy and society. It is clear that a key area in pursuing this goal is the development of a highly skilled workforce. In particular, there is growing recognition that raising skill levels of people with low qualifications should be a priority.

In light of this focus, and after extensive discussion, consultation, and consideration of relevant research and information, the team considers that:

‘There is a continuing need for quality learning programmes that assist learners with low qualifications who face significant barriers to employment to acquire the foundation skills they need to sustain themselves in employment, to continue to learn over the course of their lives, and to participate in society to the fullest extent’.

Sharpen the focus to meet future needs

The delivery and administration of the Training Opportunities and Youth Training programmes has evolved significantly over the last ten years, with the programmes becoming increasingly successful in achieving employment and education outcomes for learners. The needs that these programmes were established to meet still exist. The programmes should, however, be better positioned to meet changing needs. At a time when there are raised expectations about the skills required for employment and participation in society, the team considers it is time to take a major step forward by sharpening the future focus of these programmes.

These programmes should focus more sharply on the acquisition of a critical bundle of foundation skills and on the achievement of sustainable employment. Better operational understanding and practice needs to be developed around these twin objectives.

Foundation skills should be more of a defining feature of the programme, both in relation to eligibility and to achievement on the programme. Whilst many educational programmes at lower levels on the National Qualifications Framework clearly assist foundation skill acquisition, the concept of foundation skills needs greater operational clarity.

The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) should give priority to better mapping the acquisition of such skills through national qualifications in a similar way to the current work on mapping the acquisition of literacy and numeracy skills. Basic levels of literacy and numeracy acquired in the appropriate functional context may be a central ingredient. For other areas of skill acquisition, such as the ability to work with others and communication skills, there is a need to be more precise about the skills sought in different contexts. The review team looks to a future in which foundation skills will be clearly articulated in learning plans and qualification documents, to internationally recognised standards.

The notion of sustainable employment is the other concept that is central to the proposed future objectives for this programme. It reinforces the vision that longer-term employment outcomes are desired and therefore priority should be placed on the acquisition of foundation skills to achieve that end. A number of proposals in the report reinforce the emphasis on achieving sustainable employment: improved post-placement support; facilitating work and further learning combinations, and working with the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) to develop better measures of sustainable employment.

A greater focus on foundation skills and sustainable employment does not necessitate radical change. It is crucial that any change builds on the existing strengths of these programmes. Sharpening the focus of the programmes will result in a better ability to meet expected future social and economic needs, particularly those of Mäori and Pacific communities. This includes nurturing local economic development initiatives by providing some of the skills that are central to their success.

Greater clarity about who should be eligible

There should be greater clarity about who should benefit from these programmes. The programmes provide the opportunity for those who face significant barriers to employment to obtain those basic skills that are needed in the modern workplace, and to withstand rapid changes in the level and nature of skills required in the labour market.

The current approach to defining eligibility, through listing eligible groups, results in some unevenness in who gains entry to these programmes. In an ideal world it would be best to individually assess foundation skills and employability and determine access on that basis. However, for efficiency reasons, the proxies of low or no qualifications and long-term unemployment are currently used. In addition to these proxies, some assessment discretion exists at present, particularly by MSD staff. The review team recommends that the proxies of low or no qualifications and long-term unemployment are retained, as they provide clear identification of a core target group. The team also recommends that the process for exercising discretion about eligibility be clarified and applied more consistently. The exercise of such discretion should in future be based on assessments that consider both foundation skills and employability and thus allow scope for early intervention.

Balancing the dual focus on education and employment outcomes

The dual focus on educational and employment outcomes should continue, but requires careful management and balancing. The outcomes that providers are required to achieve should take account of the needs of their particular group of learners and of the local labour market.

The team supports the initiative to integrate these programmes more closely within the tertiary education system. The programmes need to be recognised by all stakeholders as a critical part of a learner’s process for continuing learning over the course of their life. The team recognises that foundation skills can be obtained in a variety of contexts. Once attained, it is critical that there is a clear pathway for a learner to continue to build on the base skills they have acquired.

All stakeholders should be clearly motivated by what is important to most of the participants in the programmes – achieving greater independence, and obtaining the skills to gain a satisfying job and/or to move into further education and training.

Enhancements to the delivery of the programmes

Delivery of the programmes could be improved through enhancing, in a variety of ways, the type and level of support provided to learners through these programmes.

The team supports initiatives to enhance access to the programmes. These include initiatives to better keep contact with 'at risk' young people and to help them into Youth Training, and to enhance the referral processes from MSD.

A learner focus is central to the proposals for improving these programmes. One of the key features of the programmes is that they seek to provide a learning context that is relevant to the learner. Diversity of provision is crucial to successfully meeting diverse learning needs.

There is a tension between the variety of learner needs and providers being able to respond adequately to those needs. The prime focus of the programmes should be on the learner – what motivates them, how they best learn, when they can learn and on linking these factors as far as possible to learners’ employment aspirations. The extent to which providers can adapt to individual learner needs, within the constraints of available resources, is crucial to the success of the programmes.

A key to ensuring the learner gains entry to the right programme at the right time, and progresses through the best pathway is the close co-operation and support from all the key stakeholders, including the TEC, MSD, iwi organisations, and providers including schools, private training establishments (PTEs), polytechnics, and Industry Training Organisations (ITOs). In particular, the co-operation and co-ordination of MSD and TEC staff at the national, regional and local levels will be required for the programmes to achieve their objectives.

A systems-wide view is needed, with the interface between education and employment assistance carefully managed. Alignment of objectives and effort between the education and employment sectors is crucial if the best possible outcomes are to be achieved. There is a need for strong information flows between the sectors about local needs, the processes for making referrals, and feedback on progress.

One of the key issues faced by the review team has been the tension between quality and quantity: whether, within limited resources, it is better to provide greater depth of support to fewer learners or to seek to maintain at least the same number of participants as at present. The team proposes that eligibility focus on those who lack foundation skills and who are at risk of long-term unemployment and also suggests that over time, the definition of ‘low or no qualification’ could be eased to allow more people to benefit from the programmes. However, the team also proposes a variety of measures to enhance the quality of the support for existing learners. These include enhanced post-placement support, continuing to increase the flexibility in learning arrangements to better meet the needs of learners, initiatives to allow learning and employment to continue concurrently, and closer working relationships between the key agencies involved.

The review team considers that on balance, initial priority should be given to enhancing the results achieved by learners, even though this may mean that fewer people participate annually. In the longer term, as resources allow, it would be desirable to broaden eligibility while maintaining quality. There have been substantial gains in the quality of the programmes over the past decade. However, the team considers that enhanced support for the existing number of participants will result in greater benefits.

Flexible, responsive administration

Finally, from a Government perspective there is some inevitable tension between the need for consistency and stability of funding and the desire for flexibility and responsiveness in funding to meet changing needs. There is a need for an administrative system that can manage these tensions effectively and fairly. In moving to a system of profile negotiations with the establishment of the TEC, any changes to the funding model and administrative system need to be able to embrace variations in the needs of participants and local labour markets, and to also effectively link funding to outcome achievement.

Summary of Recommendations

Section 2: Future objectives

Recommendations

The review team recommends:

Future vision

2.1 There is a need for quality learning programmes that assist learners with low qualifications who face significant barriers in the labour market to acquire the foundation skills they need to sustain themselves in employment, to continue to learn over the course of their lives, and to participate in society to the fullest extent.

Future objectives

2.2 The future objectives of the programme, as identified in the vision, should be:

2.2.1 The acquisition of foundation skills which provide a basis for:

2.2.1.1 ongoing education, and/or

2.2.1.2 sustainable employment.

Key principles to inform future delivery

2.3 Programmes should:

2.3.1 be learner-centred and focused.

2.3.2 support a variety of accessible pathways to work and further learning.

2.3.3 support diversity of provision.

2.3.4 ensure ready access to the foundation education and training that will assist learners to improve their employability.

2.3.5 provide high quality education and training.

2.3.6 be focused on the results achieved by the learner.

2.3.7 be responsive to the changing needs of the labour market, communities, Mäori, Pacific peoples, economy and society.

2.3.8 be supported by sustained, integrated and cohesive support services in order to achieve the best possible outcomes.

2.3.9 be effective and efficient in the achievement of their objectives.

Foundation Skills

2.4 The review team considers that the focus of the programmes should be on learners acquiring a critical bundle of foundation skills, which will enable them to move effectively into higher levels of tertiary education and sustainable employment.

2.5 In the longer-term the review team supports proposed work on better mapping of the acquisition of foundation skills within the national qualification framework. This will allow for the more explicit assessment of whether a person has acquired a particular level and set of foundation skills.

Section 3: Eligibility

Recommendations

The review team recommends:

3.1 Eligibility for the programmes should prioritise those learners who, due to their lack of foundation skills, face significant barriers to further education and sustaining themselves over time through employment;

3.2 Operationally, this principle should be effected through the following groups having eligibility to the programmes:

3.2.1 youth (aged under 18) who have left school with no or low qualifications;

3.2.2 long-term job seekers (registered with MSD for six months or more) who have no or low qualifications;

3.2.3 job seekers and other beneficiaries who have low or no qualifications, and who are assessed by MSD as being at risk of long-term unemployment ;

3.2.4 long-term job seekers who have more than two School Certificate passes or 40 credits or more who have not yet achieved basic literacy and numeracy requirements (based on TEC guidelines); or who have been assessed by MSD or providers as lacking foundation skills (based on TEC guidelines, and subject to the agreement of TEC and MSD);

3.2.5 young people under 18 years with 40 credits or more who have not achieved basic literacy and numeracy requirements or who have been assessed by MSD or providers as lacking foundation skills (based on TEC guidelines, and subject to the agreement of TEC); and

3.2.6 18 and 19 year olds who have left school within the last 6 months and have low or no qualifications.

3.3 Initially, low qualifications should be defined as fewer than 3 School Certificate passes or fewer than 40 credits. However, the effect of this level should be closely monitored by the TEC as the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) is introduced in schools, to ensure continued access for all those who face significant barriers to entering employment or further education due to their lack of foundation skills;

3.4 The numbers entering the programme with higher qualifications and through the ‘at risk’ categories should be monitored by MSD and TEC, and both agencies should be satisfied that this is not displacing long-term job seekers with low qualifications, at a local or national level. TEC, in consultation with MSD, should develop a process that could be used to manage the numbers of people entering the programme under these discretionary categories if necessary. Information on the categories under which Training Opportunities participants are entering the programme should be included in the agencies’ reports to Ministers. Any such limit on numbers should be agreed by MSD and TEC as part of the annual Memorandum of Understanding, and would depend on prevailing labour market conditions;

3.5 Consideration should be given to systems and operational implications of the revised eligibility criteria. Until such time as guidelines, information systems, monitoring process and trained staff are in place, current eligibility criteria and recruitment procedures should remain in place;

3.6 The impact of the revised eligibility criteria should be evaluated within two years of implementation;

3.7 The Adult English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Strategy should consider how assistance best be provided for refugees who do not need wider foundation skills assistance. Until such time as all refugees are able to readily access appropriate provision they should continue to access ESOL through Training Opportunities;

3.8 If the education and training leaving age is raised, the upper age limit for Youth Training should be increased accordingly. In this event, the interface with the benefit system should be considered.

Section 4: Delivery

Recommendations

The review team recommends:

4.1 Improvements to delivery should focus on how to improve incentives for collaboration and learner-focused provision, and ensure the current strengths of delivery continue and good practice is promulgated throughout the Training Opportunities and Youth Training sector.

Areas for improved collaboration

4.2 There should be closer links at both national and regional levels between the major government agencies involved, including MSD, TEC and Training Opportunities and Youth Training providers to ensure greater alignment in meeting learner needs. This closer collaboration shoulkd be fostered by:

4.2.1 improving information on Training Opportunities and Youth Training courses available to assist MSD case managers in assessing the needs of learners and to refer learners to the right employment assistance service at the right time;

4.2.2 better alignment of career and learning plans and job seeker agreements, to ensure consistency between organisations in goals and support provided to learners, while retaining individual characteristics of each specific plan/agreement;

4.2.3 better alignment of the outcomes to be achieved for Training Opportunities and Youth Training learners by agencies (particularly MSD and TEC) and of the processes for assessing job seekers’ and learners’ needs; and

4.2.4 working collaboratively at the local level and providing more co-ordinated, timely and relevant assistance in moving Training Opportunities and Youth Training graduates into sustainable employment and further education.

4.3 Closer links between schools and Youth Training providers, particularly in sharing information about courses and tracking students ‘at risk’ of dropping out of school.

Areas where new incentives, recognition and/or resourcing may need to be introduced to change behaviour and ensure better outcomes

4.4 Improved post-placement support for learners, including specific resourcing for providing learners with advice and mentoring once they have left the programmes. These mentoring and relationship based post-placement support services could be augmented by:

4.4.1 more flexible transition into employment, by encouraging continued learning whilst in employment (for example, to enable a learner to complete their qualification part time);

4.4.2 enhanced 'pathway' support from providers for learners entering level 3 courses with other tertiary providers, or in helping learners to access bridging courses at levels 3 or 4; and

4.4.3 investigating the piloting of an incentive payment for the student (delivered through the provider) at the end of the post-placement support period (e.g. 6, 9 or 12 months) if the learner achieves a sustainable employment outcome or a further education outcome.

4.5 Pathways and collaborative arrangements between different parts of the tertiary system to assist learners to progress should be brokered by TEC. For example, between Training Opportunities and Youth Training providers and providers of EFTS-funded courses and industry training.

4.6 Flexibility in outcomes agreements between TEC and providers to reflect the varying needs and foundation skill levels of learners, and to allow for learners to access specialist support services as appropriate. Contracts could therefore vary by length of time required to achieve outcomes and price paid.

4.7 Work be undertaken on how the profile of Training Opportunities and Youth Training might be raised, and information about outcomes and success stories be promulgated further.

4.8 Note that these recommendations build on the delivery strengths of the current programmes, and endorse their continued practice. These strengths include good practice and innovation, a diverse range of courses and learning settings to meet the wide range of learner needs, holistic and supportive learning environments and courses that are closely-linked to the labour market.

Section 5: Measuring programme performance

Recommendations

The review team recommends:

5.1 A balance of employment and educational outcomes should be retained for Training Opportunities and Youth Training.

Destinational outcomes

5.2 The current outcome measure of further education should be retained. In order to provide a richer picture, however, more specific information should be obtained about the level and type of post-Training Opportunities/Youth Training learning undertaken.

5.3 With regard to employment outcomes, the focus should be on better measuring longer–term employment results.

5.4 The measurement of employment outcomes be amended so that:

5.4.1 the monitoring of sustainable employment be achieved through the matching of MSD and TEC data on the degree to which TO learners have subsequently moved off a benefit;

5.4.2 improved measures of sustainable employment are developed by MSD and Department of Labour with a view to eventually introducing these measures for Training Opportunities and Youth Training (but maintaining the 2 month measure in the meantime), and

5.4.3 clearer recognition be given to MSD and its case managers for the successful employment and educational outcomes achieved by Training Opportunities and Youth Training job seekers and beneficiaries referred by them.

5.5 There should be better alignment of the incentives facing both MSD and the TEC for achieving employment and education outcomes.

Qualification outcomes

5.6 The average credit achievement outcome should be based upon a measure of learners’ average total credit achievement on Training Opportunities and Youth Training rather than yearly snapshots.

5.7 Learners should be encouraged to acquire a coherent set of foundation skills whilst on Training Opportunities/Youth Training, including literacy and numeracy if they lack these skills, and emphasis should be on gaining credits towards nationally recognised qualifications such as National Certificates (for example the NCEA).

Intermediate/personal development outcomes

5.8 In addition to educational and employment outcomes, TEC should recognise the intermediate outcomes or life skills obtained by Training Opportunities and Youth Training learners at the regional level during profile negotiations.

5.9 That flexibility in the length of time required to achieve outcomes for some learners is provided in the profile negotiations with providers.

Section 6: Administration

Recommendations

The review team recommends:

6.1 Administration and learning support be maintained at the regional and local level to assist the continuing development of these programmes;

6.2 Dedicated financial provision continue to be made for these programmes, to ensure a continuing focus on the needs of this group of learners; funding for Training Opportunities should remain within Vote Work and Income and for Youth Training in Vote Education;

6.3 For Training Opportunities and Youth Training, the introduction of the new charters and profiles negotiations processes should build upon existing ongoing regional planning, operational and monitoring processes and enhance the linkages with employers, schools, government agencies, and learners at the regional level;

6.4 Enhanced co-ordination of existing regional planning processes, including consultation with key regional stakeholders (e.g. TEC, MSD, Industry New Zealand, Iwi etc) and taking account of changes in the makeup of the population and of labour market conditions, to determine priorities for the allocation of expenditure (both at the national and regional level);

6.5 TEC should play a role in assisting the development of providers of Training Opportunities and Youth Training by leading debate and discussion about best practice for the provision of learning for this group of learners;

6.6 Compliance costs on providers should be monitored on an ongoing basis by TEC with a view to minimising these costs where practical;

6.7 To ensure greater transparency of pricing, TEC should release information on an annual basis about the bands of prices it pays for different types of training, and differences between regions;

6.8 The split of the Training Opportunities and Youth Training programmes should continue as long as it does not unreasonably restrict flexibility in achieving sensible learning solutions at the local level;

6.9 Training/employment assistance provided through MSD’s contracted services budget should continue to concentrate on shorter term skill development to meet specific employment opportunities in the local labour market; and

6.10 Communication between MSD and TEC and others during the setting of regional priorities should include consideration of the interface and any potential overlap between the MSD programmes and Training Opportunities and Youth Training programmes.

Building Futures, Te Aro Whakamua – Review of Training Opportunities and Youth Training

Government Decisions Arising from the Review

The review team has made a number of recommendations aimed at sharpening the future focus of Training Opportunities and Youth Training so as to best meet the needs of learners who have low qualifications and are experiencing difficulties finding employment, as well as the needs of local employers and labour markets, and the skill requirements of a modern economy. The key directions on which these recommendations are based are:

 programme delivery should be flexible, to meet the changing needs of learners and the labour market;

 programmes should be better integrated within the range of educational opportunities and employment assistance, with the efforts of agencies well co-ordinated;

 programme outcomes should be re-specified to better focus on programme participants moving into a regular pattern of employment and/or further education; and

The Government endorses the review team’s directions and intends to move as quickly as possible to implement the changes necessary to achieve this sharper focus, better integration, and improved measurement of outcomes. The key Government decisions and the steps that will be taken to implement them are outlined below.

Future Focus

The Government has accepted the view of the review team that there continues to be a need for quality learning programmes that assist learners with low qualifications who face significant barriers in the labour market to acquire the foundation skills they need to sustain themselves in employment, to continue to learn over the course of their lives, and to participate in society to the fullest extent. This view was also widely supported by those consulted in the course of the review.

To best meet this need, it has been decided that the future focus of the programmes should be on learners acquiring a critical bundle of foundation skills, which will enable them to move effectively into sustainable employment and/or higher levels of tertiary education.

In particular, the focus and delivery of the programmes should continue to be responsive to the needs and aspirations of Mäori learners.

The focus on foundation skills and sustainable employment echoes other Government strategies, including the Tertiary Education Strategy 2002-07 and the Employment Strategy .

Foundation Skills

Foundation skills are generally thought of as those skills that form the base on which higher level generic, vocational and technical skills are built, and include key literacy and numeracy skills. The notion of foundation skills is integral to the future focus and delivery of the programmes, and most submissions supported a more explicit emphasis on the acquisition of these skills. However, many people commented that there should be a clearer definition of what is meant by foundation skills, in order to be assured that learning remains a relevant and effective basis for employment or further learning.

Accordingly, while the greater focus on ensuring learners achieve foundation skills on the programmes will be introduced immediately, the Ministry of Education and the Tertiary Education Commission will work in consultation with sector experts and other agencies on:

 further clarifying what foundation skills are;

 developing measures of their achievement;

 mapping foundation skills to the qualifications framework;

 identifying the extent to which foundation skills incorporate job specific skills; and

 recommending any further modifications that may be required to the eligibility criteria.

This will enable a much clearer articulation of the basic skills and competencies required for specific contexts within national certificates.

This increased focus on foundation skills builds on the growing awareness of the past few years of the need to lift adult literacy levels, and to develop strategies and tools that can be used in whatever teaching and learning environments providers offer.

As part of the Tertiary Education Strategy 2002-07, Government is explicitly signalling that raising foundation skills is a key priority for enabling more New Zealanders to participate in our society and economy. The Government recognises the important role of Training Opportunities and Youth Training providers in ensuring this strategy is achieved.

Eligibility

The Government has accepted the review team view that eligibility for the programmes should be more clearly related to a lack of foundation skills and difficulty finding and sustaining employment. This is consistent with the widespread view that the eligibility criteria should be more flexible to better meet the needs of learners, but should clearly prioritise those who are most disadvantaged.

Youth with no or low qualifications, and Ministry of Social Development clients with no or low qualifications who have been registered as job seekers for six months or more will continue to be eligible for the programmes.

In addition, Ministry of Social Development clients who have low or no qualifications who are assessed as being at risk of long term unemployment, and those who have higher qualifications but are assessed as lacking foundation skills will be eligible.

It is important, however, that assessment procedures and appropriate systems and support are in place before these revised eligibility criteria are adopted. Therefore, the Ministry of Social Development and Skill New Zealand/Tertiary Education Commission will develop a plan for implementing the recommendations of the review team for revised eligibility criteria, the systems to support those criteria, and develop of interim guidelines for the assessment of foundation skills.

In order that those most in need of assistance continue to access the programme, without being crowded out by those with lesser needs, these agencies will also establish a process for reporting on, and if necessary managing, the numbers entering the programmes with higher qualifications and through the ‘at risk’ categories.

Training Opportunities is currently an important form of provision for English for speakers of other languages (ESOL). As this may not be the most appropriate type of assistance for refugees who have higher qualifications, the Ministry of Education, in consultation with other government agencies will consider how assistance can best be provided for refugees who do not need wider foundation skills assistance in the development of the Adult English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Strategy. However, refugees with higher qualifications will continue to access ESOL through Training Opportunities until alternative provision is available.

Delivery

The Government intends that improved collaboration at all levels should be a key characteristic of Training Opportunities and Youth Training in the future.

Collaboration and alignment of effort in meeting learner needs will be expected between the government agencies involved in Training Opportunities and Youth Training (including the Ministry of Social Development, the Tertiary Education Commission, Career Services and the Department of Corrections). Training Opportunities and Youth Training providers will need to be well-connected with other tertiary education providers and employers, to ensure learners can progress onto work and further education and build on the learning gained in the programmes. Youth Training providers and schools will also be encouraged to improve their links to provide smoother transitions for young learners into the programmes.

Another key aspect of improving programme delivery is providing enhanced post-placement support for learners, and developing options for encouraging continued learning whilst in employment. Skill New Zealand has introduced post-placement support pilots with a number of providers in 2002, and future initiatives will build on the results of these initial pilots.

To reflect the varying needs and foundation skill levels of learners, and to allow learners to access specialist support services as appropriate, Government has agreed that the annual contracts/profiles agreed between Skill New Zealand/the Tertiary Education Commission and providers should continue to be flexible in duration and price.

Government is requesting agencies to give high priority to implementing the review recommendations for improving the delivery in Training Opportunities and Youth Training. Further work on how to raise the profile of the Training Opportunities and Youth Training programmes will also be undertaken.

Outcomes

In recognition of an increased focus on the importance of foundation skills for New Zealand’s economic and social development, the Government has agreed that learners will be encouraged to acquire a coherent set of foundation skills, including literacy and numeracy, through an emphasis on gaining credits towards nationally recognised qualifications.

In order to provide better information by which to assess the effectiveness of the programmes in their own right, and in comparison to other government interventions designed to improve educational and employment outcomes for those who are unemployed or who have no or low qualifications, enhanced outcome measures will be developed that have a longer term focus.

As an initial step, agencies will develop options for implementing improved measures of educational and sustainable employment outcomes, including options for better aligning the performance measurement systems and incentives facing the Ministry of Social Development and Skill New Zealand/the Tertiary Education Commission. In the short term it is agreed that the current measures of employment and further education outcomes should be retained.

Administration and Funding

The future administration and funding of these programmes will reflect the decisions that there is a continuing need for Training Opportunities and Youth Training, and that the programmes should be better integrated within the wider tertiary education and employment assistance systems.

Accordingly, the separate funding for Training Opportunities and Youth Training programmes will continue, with dedicated financial provision within Vote Work and Income and Vote Education respectively.

Administration and learning support will be maintained at the regional and local level to assist the continuing development of these programmes.

As a result of feedback in the consultation process, in the future the Tertiary Education Commission will release information on an annual basis about the bands of prices it pays for different types of training and learners and differences between regions.

To ensure these programmes meet local community and labour market needs, the Tertiary Education Commission will also be required, in planning and determining future priorities, to consult with key stakeholders (including the Ministry of Social Development, Industry New Zealand, Department of Corrections, iwi, employers, schools and students), and take account of changes in the makeup of the population and of labour market conditions. The Tertiary Education Commission and the Ministry of Social Development will also be required to consult in determining regional plans and priorities, to ensure that training purchased by each agency is complementary.

2 May 2002

Government Announces Decisions On Review Of Training Opportunities And Youth Training

Social Services and Employment and Associate Education (Tertiary Education) Minister Steve Maharey has released the Government’s decisions arising out of the Review of the Training Opportunities and Youth Training programmes.

Training Opportunities and Youth Training are programmes targeted at people with low or no qualifications and, for Training Opportunities, who have histories of unemployment. Approximately 22,000 people will participate in Training Opportunities this year, with 13,000 young trainees participating in Youth Training.

“This Review provided an opportunity to consider the objectives for these programmes, how well they are working, and explore changes that might improve their responsiveness and effectiveness. The Review took place against the backdrop of the Government’s interlinked social and economic development strategies, and the programme of tertiary education and training reforms.

“The Review Team has made a number of recommendations. These reflect three key directions for the future of these initiatives:
 that programme delivery should be flexible to meet the changing needs of learners and the labour market;
 that programmes should be better integrated within the range of educational opportunities and employment assistance, with better coordination between government agencies; and,
 that programme outcomes should be better specified to focus on sustainable employment, and/or further education and training.

“I want to make particular mention of the contribution that providers of Training Opportunities and Youth Training make. The Review team was very impressed with provider dedication and commitment to meeting the needs of disadvantaged learners.

“I welcome the Team’s recommendations, and Cabinet has this week endorsed the Team’s directions and decided to move swiftly to implement the changes necessary to achieve the flexibility, integration, and focus on outcomes.

“The Review Team has done a superb job – and I thank Sally Munro, Tina Ratana, Liz Tanielu, Ngapo Wehi, Geoff Woolford, and officials from the Department of Labour, the ministries of Social Development and Education, and Skill New Zealand for the work that they have done.

“The Government’s Tertiary Education Strategy, which I will release shortly, emphasises the importance of raising foundation skills and supporting foundation education and training initiatives. The Tertiary Education Commission will be tasked with continuing to develop this important element of our social development and post-compulsory education and training initiatives,” said Steve Maharey.

The full review report will be available from 16 May from Skill New Zealand and the Ministry of Education.


Attached:

 Executive Summary and Recommendations arising out of the Report of the Review Team

 Summary of Government decisions

Building Futures, Te Aro Whakamua – Review of Training Opportunities and Youth Training

Report of the Review Team

Executive Summary

This review has been carried out in the context of government initiatives aimed at the development of a more inclusive, knowledge-based economy and society. It is clear that a key area in pursuing this goal is the development of a highly skilled workforce. In particular, there is growing recognition that raising skill levels of people with low qualifications should be a priority.

In light of this focus, and after extensive discussion, consultation, and consideration of relevant research and information, the team considers that:

‘There is a continuing need for quality learning programmes that assist learners with low qualifications who face significant barriers to employment to acquire the foundation skills they need to sustain themselves in employment, to continue to learn over the course of their lives, and to participate in society to the fullest extent’.

Sharpen the focus to meet future needs

The delivery and administration of the Training Opportunities and Youth Training programmes has evolved significantly over the last ten years, with the programmes becoming increasingly successful in achieving employment and education outcomes for learners. The needs that these programmes were established to meet still exist. The programmes should, however, be better positioned to meet changing needs. At a time when there are raised expectations about the skills required for employment and participation in society, the team considers it is time to take a major step forward by sharpening the future focus of these programmes.

These programmes should focus more sharply on the acquisition of a critical bundle of foundation skills and on the achievement of sustainable employment. Better operational understanding and practice needs to be developed around these twin objectives.

Foundation skills should be more of a defining feature of the programme, both in relation to eligibility and to achievement on the programme. Whilst many educational programmes at lower levels on the National Qualifications Framework clearly assist foundation skill acquisition, the concept of foundation skills needs greater operational clarity.

The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) should give priority to better mapping the acquisition of such skills through national qualifications in a similar way to the current work on mapping the acquisition of literacy and numeracy skills. Basic levels of literacy and numeracy acquired in the appropriate functional context may be a central ingredient. For other areas of skill acquisition, such as the ability to work with others and communication skills, there is a need to be more precise about the skills sought in different contexts. The review team looks to a future in which foundation skills will be clearly articulated in learning plans and qualification documents, to internationally recognised standards.

The notion of sustainable employment is the other concept that is central to the proposed future objectives for this programme. It reinforces the vision that longer-term employment outcomes are desired and therefore priority should be placed on the acquisition of foundation skills to achieve that end. A number of proposals in the report reinforce the emphasis on achieving sustainable employment: improved post-placement support; facilitating work and further learning combinations, and working with the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) to develop better measures of sustainable employment.

A greater focus on foundation skills and sustainable employment does not necessitate radical change. It is crucial that any change builds on the existing strengths of these programmes. Sharpening the focus of the programmes will result in a better ability to meet expected future social and economic needs, particularly those of Mäori and Pacific communities. This includes nurturing local economic development initiatives by providing some of the skills that are central to their success.

Greater clarity about who should be eligible

There should be greater clarity about who should benefit from these programmes. The programmes provide the opportunity for those who face significant barriers to employment to obtain those basic skills that are needed in the modern workplace, and to withstand rapid changes in the level and nature of skills required in the labour market.

The current approach to defining eligibility, through listing eligible groups, results in some unevenness in who gains entry to these programmes. In an ideal world it would be best to individually assess foundation skills and employability and determine access on that basis. However, for efficiency reasons, the proxies of low or no qualifications and long-term unemployment are currently used. In addition to these proxies, some assessment discretion exists at present, particularly by MSD staff. The review team recommends that the proxies of low or no qualifications and long-term unemployment are retained, as they provide clear identification of a core target group. The team also recommends that the process for exercising discretion about eligibility be clarified and applied more consistently. The exercise of such discretion should in future be based on assessments that consider both foundation skills and employability and thus allow scope for early intervention.

Balancing the dual focus on education and employment outcomes

The dual focus on educational and employment outcomes should continue, but requires careful management and balancing. The outcomes that providers are required to achieve should take account of the needs of their particular group of learners and of the local labour market.

The team supports the initiative to integrate these programmes more closely within the tertiary education system. The programmes need to be recognised by all stakeholders as a critical part of a learner’s process for continuing learning over the course of their life. The team recognises that foundation skills can be obtained in a variety of contexts. Once attained, it is critical that there is a clear pathway for a learner to continue to build on the base skills they have acquired.

All stakeholders should be clearly motivated by what is important to most of the participants in the programmes – achieving greater independence, and obtaining the skills to gain a satisfying job and/or to move into further education and training.

Enhancements to the delivery of the programmes

Delivery of the programmes could be improved through enhancing, in a variety of ways, the type and level of support provided to learners through these programmes.

The team supports initiatives to enhance access to the programmes. These include initiatives to better keep contact with 'at risk' young people and to help them into Youth Training, and to enhance the referral processes from MSD.

A learner focus is central to the proposals for improving these programmes. One of the key features of the programmes is that they seek to provide a learning context that is relevant to the learner. Diversity of provision is crucial to successfully meeting diverse learning needs.

There is a tension between the variety of learner needs and providers being able to respond adequately to those needs. The prime focus of the programmes should be on the learner – what motivates them, how they best learn, when they can learn and on linking these factors as far as possible to learners’ employment aspirations. The extent to which providers can adapt to individual learner needs, within the constraints of available resources, is crucial to the success of the programmes.

A key to ensuring the learner gains entry to the right programme at the right time, and progresses through the best pathway is the close co-operation and support from all the key stakeholders, including the TEC, MSD, iwi organisations, and providers including schools, private training establishments (PTEs), polytechnics, and Industry Training Organisations (ITOs). In particular, the co-operation and co-ordination of MSD and TEC staff at the national, regional and local levels will be required for the programmes to achieve their objectives.

A systems-wide view is needed, with the interface between education and employment assistance carefully managed. Alignment of objectives and effort between the education and employment sectors is crucial if the best possible outcomes are to be achieved. There is a need for strong information flows between the sectors about local needs, the processes for making referrals, and feedback on progress.

One of the key issues faced by the review team has been the tension between quality and quantity: whether, within limited resources, it is better to provide greater depth of support to fewer learners or to seek to maintain at least the same number of participants as at present. The team proposes that eligibility focus on those who lack foundation skills and who are at risk of long-term unemployment and also suggests that over time, the definition of ‘low or no qualification’ could be eased to allow more people to benefit from the programmes. However, the team also proposes a variety of measures to enhance the quality of the support for existing learners. These include enhanced post-placement support, continuing to increase the flexibility in learning arrangements to better meet the needs of learners, initiatives to allow learning and employment to continue concurrently, and closer working relationships between the key agencies involved.

The review team considers that on balance, initial priority should be given to enhancing the results achieved by learners, even though this may mean that fewer people participate annually. In the longer term, as resources allow, it would be desirable to broaden eligibility while maintaining quality. There have been substantial gains in the quality of the programmes over the past decade. However, the team considers that enhanced support for the existing number of participants will result in greater benefits.

Flexible, responsive administration

Finally, from a Government perspective there is some inevitable tension between the need for consistency and stability of funding and the desire for flexibility and responsiveness in funding to meet changing needs. There is a need for an administrative system that can manage these tensions effectively and fairly. In moving to a system of profile negotiations with the establishment of the TEC, any changes to the funding model and administrative system need to be able to embrace variations in the needs of participants and local labour markets, and to also effectively link funding to outcome achievement.

Summary of Recommendations

Section 2: Future objectives

Recommendations

The review team recommends:

Future vision

2.1 There is a need for quality learning programmes that assist learners with low qualifications who face significant barriers in the labour market to acquire the foundation skills they need to sustain themselves in employment, to continue to learn over the course of their lives, and to participate in society to the fullest extent.

Future objectives

2.2 The future objectives of the programme, as identified in the vision, should be:

2.2.1 The acquisition of foundation skills which provide a basis for:

2.2.1.1 ongoing education, and/or

2.2.1.2 sustainable employment.

Key principles to inform future delivery

2.3 Programmes should:

2.3.1 be learner-centred and focused.

2.3.2 support a variety of accessible pathways to work and further learning.

2.3.3 support diversity of provision.

2.3.4 ensure ready access to the foundation education and training that will assist learners to improve their employability.

2.3.5 provide high quality education and training.

2.3.6 be focused on the results achieved by the learner.

2.3.7 be responsive to the changing needs of the labour market, communities, Mäori, Pacific peoples, economy and society.

2.3.8 be supported by sustained, integrated and cohesive support services in order to achieve the best possible outcomes.

2.3.9 be effective and efficient in the achievement of their objectives.

Foundation Skills

2.4 The review team considers that the focus of the programmes should be on learners acquiring a critical bundle of foundation skills, which will enable them to move effectively into higher levels of tertiary education and sustainable employment.

2.5 In the longer-term the review team supports proposed work on better mapping of the acquisition of foundation skills within the national qualification framework. This will allow for the more explicit assessment of whether a person has acquired a particular level and set of foundation skills.

Section 3: Eligibility

Recommendations

The review team recommends:

3.1 Eligibility for the programmes should prioritise those learners who, due to their lack of foundation skills, face significant barriers to further education and sustaining themselves over time through employment;

3.2 Operationally, this principle should be effected through the following groups having eligibility to the programmes:

3.2.1 youth (aged under 18) who have left school with no or low qualifications;

3.2.2 long-term job seekers (registered with MSD for six months or more) who have no or low qualifications;

3.2.3 job seekers and other beneficiaries who have low or no qualifications, and who are assessed by MSD as being at risk of long-term unemployment ;

3.2.4 long-term job seekers who have more than two School Certificate passes or 40 credits or more who have not yet achieved basic literacy and numeracy requirements (based on TEC guidelines); or who have been assessed by MSD or providers as lacking foundation skills (based on TEC guidelines, and subject to the agreement of TEC and MSD);

3.2.5 young people under 18 years with 40 credits or more who have not achieved basic literacy and numeracy requirements or who have been assessed by MSD or providers as lacking foundation skills (based on TEC guidelines, and subject to the agreement of TEC); and

3.2.6 18 and 19 year olds who have left school within the last 6 months and have low or no qualifications.

3.3 Initially, low qualifications should be defined as fewer than 3 School Certificate passes or fewer than 40 credits. However, the effect of this level should be closely monitored by the TEC as the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) is introduced in schools, to ensure continued access for all those who face significant barriers to entering employment or further education due to their lack of foundation skills;

3.4 The numbers entering the programme with higher qualifications and through the ‘at risk’ categories should be monitored by MSD and TEC, and both agencies should be satisfied that this is not displacing long-term job seekers with low qualifications, at a local or national level. TEC, in consultation with MSD, should develop a process that could be used to manage the numbers of people entering the programme under these discretionary categories if necessary. Information on the categories under which Training Opportunities participants are entering the programme should be included in the agencies’ reports to Ministers. Any such limit on numbers should be agreed by MSD and TEC as part of the annual Memorandum of Understanding, and would depend on prevailing labour market conditions;

3.5 Consideration should be given to systems and operational implications of the revised eligibility criteria. Until such time as guidelines, information systems, monitoring process and trained staff are in place, current eligibility criteria and recruitment procedures should remain in place;

3.6 The impact of the revised eligibility criteria should be evaluated within two years of implementation;

3.7 The Adult English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Strategy should consider how assistance best be provided for refugees who do not need wider foundation skills assistance. Until such time as all refugees are able to readily access appropriate provision they should continue to access ESOL through Training Opportunities;

3.8 If the education and training leaving age is raised, the upper age limit for Youth Training should be increased accordingly. In this event, the interface with the benefit system should be considered.

Section 4: Delivery

Recommendations

The review team recommends:

4.1 Improvements to delivery should focus on how to improve incentives for collaboration and learner-focused provision, and ensure the current strengths of delivery continue and good practice is promulgated throughout the Training Opportunities and Youth Training sector.

Areas for improved collaboration

4.2 There should be closer links at both national and regional levels between the major government agencies involved, including MSD, TEC and Training Opportunities and Youth Training providers to ensure greater alignment in meeting learner needs. This closer collaboration shoulkd be fostered by:

4.2.1 improving information on Training Opportunities and Youth Training courses available to assist MSD case managers in assessing the needs of learners and to refer learners to the right employment assistance service at the right time;

4.2.2 better alignment of career and learning plans and job seeker agreements, to ensure consistency between organisations in goals and support provided to learners, while retaining individual characteristics of each specific plan/agreement;

4.2.3 better alignment of the outcomes to be achieved for Training Opportunities and Youth Training learners by agencies (particularly MSD and TEC) and of the processes for assessing job seekers’ and learners’ needs; and

4.2.4 working collaboratively at the local level and providing more co-ordinated, timely and relevant assistance in moving Training Opportunities and Youth Training graduates into sustainable employment and further education.

4.3 Closer links between schools and Youth Training providers, particularly in sharing information about courses and tracking students ‘at risk’ of dropping out of school.

Areas where new incentives, recognition and/or resourcing may need to be introduced to change behaviour and ensure better outcomes

4.4 Improved post-placement support for learners, including specific resourcing for providing learners with advice and mentoring once they have left the programmes. These mentoring and relationship based post-placement support services could be augmented by:

4.4.1 more flexible transition into employment, by encouraging continued learning whilst in employment (for example, to enable a learner to complete their qualification part time);

4.4.2 enhanced 'pathway' support from providers for learners entering level 3 courses with other tertiary providers, or in helping learners to access bridging courses at levels 3 or 4; and

4.4.3 investigating the piloting of an incentive payment for the student (delivered through the provider) at the end of the post-placement support period (e.g. 6, 9 or 12 months) if the learner achieves a sustainable employment outcome or a further education outcome.

4.5 Pathways and collaborative arrangements between different parts of the tertiary system to assist learners to progress should be brokered by TEC. For example, between Training Opportunities and Youth Training providers and providers of EFTS-funded courses and industry training.

4.6 Flexibility in outcomes agreements between TEC and providers to reflect the varying needs and foundation skill levels of learners, and to allow for learners to access specialist support services as appropriate. Contracts could therefore vary by length of time required to achieve outcomes and price paid.

4.7 Work be undertaken on how the profile of Training Opportunities and Youth Training might be raised, and information about outcomes and success stories be promulgated further.

4.8 Note that these recommendations build on the delivery strengths of the current programmes, and endorse their continued practice. These strengths include good practice and innovation, a diverse range of courses and learning settings to meet the wide range of learner needs, holistic and supportive learning environments and courses that are closely-linked to the labour market.

Section 5: Measuring programme performance

Recommendations

The review team recommends:

5.1 A balance of employment and educational outcomes should be retained for Training Opportunities and Youth Training.

Destinational outcomes

5.2 The current outcome measure of further education should be retained. In order to provide a richer picture, however, more specific information should be obtained about the level and type of post-Training Opportunities/Youth Training learning undertaken.

5.3 With regard to employment outcomes, the focus should be on better measuring longer–term employment results.

5.4 The measurement of employment outcomes be amended so that:

5.4.1 the monitoring of sustainable employment be achieved through the matching of MSD and TEC data on the degree to which TO learners have subsequently moved off a benefit;

5.4.2 improved measures of sustainable employment are developed by MSD and Department of Labour with a view to eventually introducing these measures for Training Opportunities and Youth Training (but maintaining the 2 month measure in the meantime), and

5.4.3 clearer recognition be given to MSD and its case managers for the successful employment and educational outcomes achieved by Training Opportunities and Youth Training job seekers and beneficiaries referred by them.

5.5 There should be better alignment of the incentives facing both MSD and the TEC for achieving employment and education outcomes.

Qualification outcomes

5.6 The average credit achievement outcome should be based upon a measure of learners’ average total credit achievement on Training Opportunities and Youth Training rather than yearly snapshots.

5.7 Learners should be encouraged to acquire a coherent set of foundation skills whilst on Training Opportunities/Youth Training, including literacy and numeracy if they lack these skills, and emphasis should be on gaining credits towards nationally recognised qualifications such as National Certificates (for example the NCEA).

Intermediate/personal development outcomes

5.8 In addition to educational and employment outcomes, TEC should recognise the intermediate outcomes or life skills obtained by Training Opportunities and Youth Training learners at the regional level during profile negotiations.

5.9 That flexibility in the length of time required to achieve outcomes for some learners is provided in the profile negotiations with providers.

Section 6: Administration

Recommendations

The review team recommends:

6.1 Administration and learning support be maintained at the regional and local level to assist the continuing development of these programmes;

6.2 Dedicated financial provision continue to be made for these programmes, to ensure a continuing focus on the needs of this group of learners; funding for Training Opportunities should remain within Vote Work and Income and for Youth Training in Vote Education;

6.3 For Training Opportunities and Youth Training, the introduction of the new charters and profiles negotiations processes should build upon existing ongoing regional planning, operational and monitoring processes and enhance the linkages with employers, schools, government agencies, and learners at the regional level;

6.4 Enhanced co-ordination of existing regional planning processes, including consultation with key regional stakeholders (e.g. TEC, MSD, Industry New Zealand, Iwi etc) and taking account of changes in the makeup of the population and of labour market conditions, to determine priorities for the allocation of expenditure (both at the national and regional level);

6.5 TEC should play a role in assisting the development of providers of Training Opportunities and Youth Training by leading debate and discussion about best practice for the provision of learning for this group of learners;

6.6 Compliance costs on providers should be monitored on an ongoing basis by TEC with a view to minimising these costs where practical;

6.7 To ensure greater transparency of pricing, TEC should release information on an annual basis about the bands of prices it pays for different types of training, and differences between regions;

6.8 The split of the Training Opportunities and Youth Training programmes should continue as long as it does not unreasonably restrict flexibility in achieving sensible learning solutions at the local level;

6.9 Training/employment assistance provided through MSD’s contracted services budget should continue to concentrate on shorter term skill development to meet specific employment opportunities in the local labour market; and

6.10 Communication between MSD and TEC and others during the setting of regional priorities should include consideration of the interface and any potential overlap between the MSD programmes and Training Opportunities and Youth Training programmes.

Building Futures, Te Aro Whakamua – Review of Training Opportunities and Youth Training

Government Decisions Arising from the Review

The review team has made a number of recommendations aimed at sharpening the future focus of Training Opportunities and Youth Training so as to best meet the needs of learners who have low qualifications and are experiencing difficulties finding employment, as well as the needs of local employers and labour markets, and the skill requirements of a modern economy. The key directions on which these recommendations are based are:

 programme delivery should be flexible, to meet the changing needs of learners and the labour market;

 programmes should be better integrated within the range of educational opportunities and employment assistance, with the efforts of agencies well co-ordinated;

 programme outcomes should be re-specified to better focus on programme participants moving into a regular pattern of employment and/or further education; and

The Government endorses the review team’s directions and intends to move as quickly as possible to implement the changes necessary to achieve this sharper focus, better integration, and improved measurement of outcomes. The key Government decisions and the steps that will be taken to implement them are outlined below.

Future Focus

The Government has accepted the view of the review team that there continues to be a need for quality learning programmes that assist learners with low qualifications who face significant barriers in the labour market to acquire the foundation skills they need to sustain themselves in employment, to continue to learn over the course of their lives, and to participate in society to the fullest extent. This view was also widely supported by those consulted in the course of the review.

To best meet this need, it has been decided that the future focus of the programmes should be on learners acquiring a critical bundle of foundation skills, which will enable them to move effectively into sustainable employment and/or higher levels of tertiary education.

In particular, the focus and delivery of the programmes should continue to be responsive to the needs and aspirations of Mäori learners.

The focus on foundation skills and sustainable employment echoes other Government strategies, including the Tertiary Education Strategy 2002-07 and the Employment Strategy .

Foundation Skills

Foundation skills are generally thought of as those skills that form the base on which higher level generic, vocational and technical skills are built, and include key literacy and numeracy skills. The notion of foundation skills is integral to the future focus and delivery of the programmes, and most submissions supported a more explicit emphasis on the acquisition of these skills. However, many people commented that there should be a clearer definition of what is meant by foundation skills, in order to be assured that learning remains a relevant and effective basis for employment or further learning.

Accordingly, while the greater focus on ensuring learners achieve foundation skills on the programmes will be introduced immediately, the Ministry of Education and the Tertiary Education Commission will work in consultation with sector experts and other agencies on:

 further clarifying what foundation skills are;

 developing measures of their achievement;

 mapping foundation skills to the qualifications framework;

 identifying the extent to which foundation skills incorporate job specific skills; and

 recommending any further modifications that may be required to the eligibility criteria.

This will enable a much clearer articulation of the basic skills and competencies required for specific contexts within national certificates.

This increased focus on foundation skills builds on the growing awareness of the past few years of the need to lift adult literacy levels, and to develop strategies and tools that can be used in whatever teaching and learning environments providers offer.

As part of the Tertiary Education Strategy 2002-07, Government is explicitly signalling that raising foundation skills is a key priority for enabling more New Zealanders to participate in our society and economy. The Government recognises the important role of Training Opportunities and Youth Training providers in ensuring this strategy is achieved.

Eligibility

The Government has accepted the review team view that eligibility for the programmes should be more clearly related to a lack of foundation skills and difficulty finding and sustaining employment. This is consistent with the widespread view that the eligibility criteria should be more flexible to better meet the needs of learners, but should clearly prioritise those who are most disadvantaged.

Youth with no or low qualifications, and Ministry of Social Development clients with no or low qualifications who have been registered as job seekers for six months or more will continue to be eligible for the programmes.

In addition, Ministry of Social Development clients who have low or no qualifications who are assessed as being at risk of long term unemployment, and those who have higher qualifications but are assessed as lacking foundation skills will be eligible.

It is important, however, that assessment procedures and appropriate systems and support are in place before these revised eligibility criteria are adopted. Therefore, the Ministry of Social Development and Skill New Zealand/Tertiary Education Commission will develop a plan for implementing the recommendations of the review team for revised eligibility criteria, the systems to support those criteria, and develop of interim guidelines for the assessment of foundation skills.

In order that those most in need of assistance continue to access the programme, without being crowded out by those with lesser needs, these agencies will also establish a process for reporting on, and if necessary managing, the numbers entering the programmes with higher qualifications and through the ‘at risk’ categories.

Training Opportunities is currently an important form of provision for English for speakers of other languages (ESOL). As this may not be the most appropriate type of assistance for refugees who have higher qualifications, the Ministry of Education, in consultation with other government agencies will consider how assistance can best be provided for refugees who do not need wider foundation skills assistance in the development of the Adult English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Strategy. However, refugees with higher qualifications will continue to access ESOL through Training Opportunities until alternative provision is available.

Delivery

The Government intends that improved collaboration at all levels should be a key characteristic of Training Opportunities and Youth Training in the future.

Collaboration and alignment of effort in meeting learner needs will be expected between the government agencies involved in Training Opportunities and Youth Training (including the Ministry of Social Development, the Tertiary Education Commission, Career Services and the Department of Corrections). Training Opportunities and Youth Training providers will need to be well-connected with other tertiary education providers and employers, to ensure learners can progress onto work and further education and build on the learning gained in the programmes. Youth Training providers and schools will also be encouraged to improve their links to provide smoother transitions for young learners into the programmes.

Another key aspect of improving programme delivery is providing enhanced post-placement support for learners, and developing options for encouraging continued learning whilst in employment. Skill New Zealand has introduced post-placement support pilots with a number of providers in 2002, and future initiatives will build on the results of these initial pilots.

To reflect the varying needs and foundation skill levels of learners, and to allow learners to access specialist support services as appropriate, Government has agreed that the annual contracts/profiles agreed between Skill New Zealand/the Tertiary Education Commission and providers should continue to be flexible in duration and price.

Government is requesting agencies to give high priority to implementing the review recommendations for improving the delivery in Training Opportunities and Youth Training. Further work on how to raise the profile of the Training Opportunities and Youth Training programmes will also be undertaken.

Outcomes

In recognition of an increased focus on the importance of foundation skills for New Zealand’s economic and social development, the Government has agreed that learners will be encouraged to acquire a coherent set of foundation skills, including literacy and numeracy, through an emphasis on gaining credits towards nationally recognised qualifications.

In order to provide better information by which to assess the effectiveness of the programmes in their own right, and in comparison to other government interventions designed to improve educational and employment outcomes for those who are unemployed or who have no or low qualifications, enhanced outcome measures will be developed that have a longer term focus.

As an initial step, agencies will develop options for implementing improved measures of educational and sustainable employment outcomes, including options for better aligning the performance measurement systems and incentives facing the Ministry of Social Development and Skill New Zealand/the Tertiary Education Commission. In the short term it is agreed that the current measures of employment and further education outcomes should be retained.

Administration and Funding

The future administration and funding of these programmes will reflect the decisions that there is a continuing need for Training Opportunities and Youth Training, and that the programmes should be better integrated within the wider tertiary education and employment assistance systems.

Accordingly, the separate funding for Training Opportunities and Youth Training programmes will continue, with dedicated financial provision within Vote Work and Income and Vote Education respectively.

Administration and learning support will be maintained at the regional and local level to assist the continuing development of these programmes.

As a result of feedback in the consultation process, in the future the Tertiary Education Commission will release information on an annual basis about the bands of prices it pays for different types of training and learners and differences between regions.

To ensure these programmes meet local community and labour market needs, the Tertiary Education Commission will also be required, in planning and determining future priorities, to consult with key stakeholders (including the Ministry of Social Development, Industry New Zealand, Department of Corrections, iwi, employers, schools and students), and take account of changes in the makeup of the population and of labour market conditions. The Tertiary Education Commission and the Ministry of Social Development will also be required to consult in determining regional plans and priorities, to ensure that training purchased by each agency is complementary.

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