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Skills training amongst tertiary priorities

Skills training emphasised amongst tertiary priorities

The importance of skills training has been emphasised in a new Statement of Tertiary Education Priorities (STEP) released today.

The STEP sets the priorities within the tertiary education system up to December 2004, in line with the Tertiary Education Strategy for 2002-07 (TES). It replaces an Interim STEP that was published in July 2002 to inform the early implementation stages of the tertiary education sector reforms. STEPs are not intended to change significantly from version to version because they are primarily advice to the Tertiary Education Commission and tertiary education organisations about the particular emphasis that should be given to relevant items within the 5-year Tertiary Education Strategy at the time of issue.

Steve Maharey said the strengthened emphasis on skills training reflects the continuing demand for skilled workers and the emergence of skill shortages in some regions.

“Tertiary education is one of the most important tools available to transform New Zealand in to a knowledge society. The starting point for the Tertiary Education Strategy was to identify how the sector could pull together to improve our national education and research efforts so that we can achieve that transformation.

“The revised STEP issued today has some important changes in emphasis: it elevates the new leadership role industry training organisations now have to support industries to identify and meet their skills needs; it explicitly references the government’s Youth Transitions goal to have all 15-19 year olds engaged in appropriate education, training, work or other options by 2007; and it notes the higher priority now being accorded to strategy four of the Tertiary Education Strategy – Develop the Skills New Zealanders need for our Knowledge Society.

“The key priority for the period covered by this STEP is to develop the infrastructure and processes that will support the new tertiary education system. As a result, the objectives in the TES that the STEP prioritises for action remain largely unchanged, given that the sector reforms are still being implemented,” Steve Maharey said.

Steve Maharey also welcomed some of the noteworthy successes since July 2002 that are outlined in the STEP.

“Good foundation skills can bring multiple pay-offs as the document records. A good example is the Wairoa Driving Licence Advancement programme, which was established in response to the high percentage of Wairoa residents driving without a licence or driving vehicles without a current warrant of fitness and registration.

“The benefits of this programme have far exceeded the original aims, extending into behavioural improvements in road safety, child restraints, drink driving, speeding, cycle helmets, literacy needs and attitudinal changes,” Steve Maharey said.

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