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Age of participation in education lifted to 18

30 January 2008
Media Statement

Age of participation in education or training lifted to 18

Prime Minister Helen Clark today outlined new government policy for all young people to be in school or some other form of education or training until the age of eighteen.

Helen Clark also announced that the Youth Apprenticeship programme being piloted this year will be rolled out to all secondary schools by the end of 2011.

Helen Clark said that almost thirty per cent of New Zealand students have left school before their seventeenth birthday, and forty per cent leave with less than an NCEA Level Two qualification.

“While this is an improvement on past levels of participation and achievement, it is well below what is required for young people to have a secure future and contribute to our country’s development.

“In these times of near full employment those without qualifications can still find work. But a low skill base stops us growing the value of the economy and lifting our living standards to their full potential.”

Helen Clark said that there are already exciting initiatives in schools which aim to keep young people engaged for longer.

“But our schools and formal education system cannot do the job on their own. More partnerships will be needed with employers, tertiary educators, private training providers, and communities to ensure that a range of options to meet student needs is available.”

Helen Clark said that the Ministry of Education was now being charged with responsibility for the plan of action which will see the new policy implements within the next parliamentary term. A detailed timetable will be developed with clear milestones after consultation with stakeholders.

“Part of the plan will involve the roll out of the Youth Apprenticeship Scheme being piloted in schools this year across New Zealand by 2011.”

The Government also announced today the formation of a tripartite body with Business NZ and the Council of Trade Unions to drive upskilling of the existing workforce. Tertiary Education Minister Pete Hodgson and Associate Minister, Maryan Street, will chair the forum.

“It is of concern that around half our current workforce does not have the education and skills to function fully in a knowledge economy.

“The new tripartite forum will see government work with its partners to lift skills levels,” Helen Clark said.


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