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Plumbers numeracy down the drain

Colin King MP
National Party Associate Education Spokesman (Trade Training)

9 April 2008

Plumbers numeracy down the drain

Apprentice plumbers, gasfitters, and drainlayers are failing to gain registration in appalling numbers because of atrocious literacy and numeracy skills, says National's Associate Education (Trade Training) spokesman, Colin King.

The report from the 2007 exams highlights a woeful grasp of basic subjects, which prompted Chief Examiner Roye Daniel to say 'The lack of basic mathematical skills continues to disappoint and hence disadvantages many candidates. In an industry where most pipes, tanks, and vessels are round far too many cannot calculate the area of a circle and thus the volume of circular objects.'

"Only 35% of apprentices passed their plumbing registration exams last year, and almost half of all apprentices who sat their drainlaying registration failed.

"The examiner said in his report 'In many cases persons entering the industry could benefit from some additional tuition in comprehension, linguistic, and numeracy skills to help their advancement in an industry becoming exponentially more technical and complex.'

"This is a serious indictment on a Labour Government that has failed to address literacy and numeracy for the nine years it has been in office. It is simply unacceptable that one in five New Zealand kids leave school unable to read, write, or do maths anywhere near their chronological age.

"That is why National is committed to addressing the issue by setting national standards in reading, writing, and numeracy, and will require primary schools to assess the progress of their students with others around the country.

"If we don't ensure that kids master the basics of reading, writing, and maths at primary school, then we are robbing them of future opportunities."


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