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Study Highlights Success Factors for Pacific Learners

New workplace training study highlights success factors for Pacific learners

The recent Pacific Learner Success in Workplace Settings report, published as part of the 2017 Pacific Tertiary Education Forum this week, shines the spotlight on a number of steps Industry Training Providers can take to improve outcomes for Pacific learners.

“Industry training accounts for one in eight Pacific learners in tertiary education, yet there has been very little research into what factors determine the success or failure of industry training initiatives for Pacific people,” explains Dr Debbie Ryan, Director Pacific Perspectives.

“Workplace training initiatives have the opportunity to make a significant contribution to the development of our Pacific workforce – however, there hasn’t traditionally been a lot of data regarding the factors that support or hinder success for Pacific learners in industry training. That is beginning to change,” Dr Ryan adds.

The research initiative was funded by Ako Aotearoa and led by Service IQ with support from three other industry training organisations and Pacific Perspectives. The project ran from February 2015 until November 2016 and included the design, delivery and evaluation of four pilot programmes that focused on Pacific learners.

"Although New Zealand has seen rising employment, the rates for Pacific people continue to track below the national averages. Having more accessible and more effective approaches to industry training is an important step towards closing these gaps,” Dr Ryan adds.

“We also found that Pacific workers are often unaware of the learning opportunities that are available and their previous, and often negative, education experiences create further barriers to participation.”

“When employers and workplace training facilitators were able to empathise with the contexts that shape their workers’ lives, and tailor learning activities so they were relevant in the workplace, we saw higher levels of participation and greater success in industry training.”

The project findings - which include a number of specific recommendations for both workplaces and industry training organisations – are being published as part of this week’s Pacific Tertiary Education Forum.

The report encourages trainers and training bodies to take a broader view of Pacific learner success and to acknowledge the many valuable and transferable ‘soft’ skills that are innately part of Pacific culture and spill over into non-work settings and interactions for Pacific learners.

“It’s heartening to see a number of ITO’s tackling these issues – there really is some excellent work being done. We still have a way to go – Pacific people continue to be under-represented in senior roles and in higher educational qualifications.”

“We need much greater awareness of the workplace issues facing Pacific learners. This research can help training providers take a strong step towards addressing these barriers,” Dr Ryan suggests.


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