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Street: launch of the Skills Strategy consultation

Hon Maryan Street
Associate Minister for Tertiary Education

29 April, 2008
Speech

The launch of the Skills Strategy consultation process

Speech by Associate Tertiary Education Minister Maryan Street at Rutherford House, Wellington


Good morning everyone. I would like to add to the comments made by my Skills Strategy co-chair, the Honourable Pete Hodgson, by giving you a sense of the key issues being examined through the New Zealand Skills Strategy.

Previous work on skills has generally focused on the “flow” of workers out of education and training. This is the first work with a focus on the “stock” of existing workers – as 80% of the workers we will have in 2020 are already working, it is critical that we make the most of their skills.

The discussion paper proposes four priorities for action over the next year.

The first priority is working with employers in a concerted effort to lift the literacy, language and numeracy skills of the estimated 1.1 million New Zealanders who have skills below those needed to participate fully in a knowledge society.

While increases in literacy, language and numeracy skills will not in isolation lead to transformation, transformation will be impossible unless a much larger proportion of the workforce have a much greater capacity to move into higher skill jobs.

The second priority is supporting firms to attract, develop, use and retain skills across their whole workplace. This includes a focus on developing the leadership and management skills of the people running New Zealand businesses, and supporting workplaces to take a whole-of-workplace approach to skills development.

We also think there is a need to work together to make sure the supply of skills through the tertiary education system is well matched to the needs of industry.

A stronger relationship between supply and demand is a key focus of the new tertiary education system. But the success of the Tertiary Education Strategy relies on action from all involved. Students need to make informed decisions about what to study, tertiary education organisations must focus on excellent and relevant tertiary education, and industries and firms need to provide good information about the skills and knowledge they need.
The industry training sector – represented by Industry Training Organisations and the Industry Training Federation - also has a critical role to play as a conduit between firms and tertiary education organisations in relevant industries.

Last – but by no means least, the strategy also focuses on ways to ensure that young people who are already in work are supported to continue to develop their skills so that they can drive New Zealand’s prosperity in the decades to come.
This work will complement the Government’s Schools Plus initiative that sets a goal for all young people to be in education, training or structured learning, relevant to their needs and abilities, until the age of 18.
Work to be progressed through the Skills Strategy and Schools Plus will enable all young people to reach their potential and ensure that New Zealand has the skilled workers it needs in the future.

Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you all for coming here today. I also want to
thank all our partners in the New Zealand Skills Strategy. But the hard work
starts now! The Skills Strategy is based on an understanding that the
significant improvement in skills development and use needed to transform
the economy is going to require co-ordinated action and commitment from all of
us.

Please join with us in developing the 2008 plan of action.

Thank you.


ENDS

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