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Sell-out conference to look at getting better job

Sell-out conference to look at getting better job and study outcomes for secondary school students

Achieving better job and study outcomes for the large proportion of secondary school students who either opt for vocational training or drop out of the education system is a key theme of a major two-day conference to be held in Wellington next week.

Jointly hosted by Ako Aotearoa: The National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence and the Manukau Institute of Technology’s Centre for Studies in Multiple Pathways, The Te Ara Whakamana: Pathways, Transitions, and Bridges to Tertiary Educationconference, will be held at the Rydges Hotel on June 28-29.

The organisers are delighted by the high level of interest in this year’s event, which has sold-out with more than 160 people attending. Ako Aotearoa Director, Dr Peter Coolbear, attributes this to a greater emphasis in the education sector on the outcomes of study and training. “Successful pathways and transitions are not just about giving young people an education, they are about ensuring they progress into the world with a good job and achieve lifelong success,” he said. Te Ara Whakamana means the Empowering Path, reflecting the conference’s emphasis on lifelong learning.

Tertiary Education Minister, Steven Joyce, will open the conference, which brings together practitioners, policy-makers, researchers and providers across both secondary and tertiary education to discuss how young people can make a successful transition from secondary education into tertiary education and employment. Labour Party Education Spokesperson Chris Hipkins will present the closing address, Education and the Future of Work.

The forum particularly stresses the need for:

•Cooperation across sectors (secondary-tertiary and education-employment).

•Developing pathways for learners that promote both successful education and successful career outcomes.

•Career management.

•Innovative models for addressing the secondary-tertiary interface.

A conference highlight will be a keynote speech by renowned Australian vocational education researcher, Professor John Polesel of the Melbourne Graduate School of Education. He will discuss what can be done for young people who completely fall through the cracks of the tertiary education system. These people are often the most vulnerable in the labour market, as they face the prospect of short-term contract roles, insecure jobs with no paid holidays or sick leave and receive little training.

Polesel will argue that a key issue in vocational education today is that university entry is still the top priority in the secondary education system, even though only about 40 per cent of secondary students actually go on to university. He calls on secondary schools and the education system to put more emphasis on allocating staff and resources towards providing vocational programmes that engage industry and business as well as careers advice and guidance that reflects the needs of all young people, not just those going to university.

On the same theme, the second keynote speaker, Dr John Stanwick, of Australia’s National Centre for Vocational Education Research, will present data and research on youth transitions trends in Australia and internationally and explore future skills needs. Stanwick maintains that young people today are more likely to live at home longer, extend their participation in education and training and are less likely to work full-time in the short to medium term.

Bridging the gap between secondary and tertiary education in science, technology, engineering and manufacturing (STEM) career pathways is another key theme. American educational consultant and the third keynote speaker, Bayha Group CEO June Bayha, will provide a practical example of a pioneering and highly successful secondary school STEM vocational education programme. Bayha was instrumental in implementing a programme aimed at helping its poorest students, which has resulted in high graduation rates for its poorest students.

There will also be important sessions dedicated to Maori and Pacific trades learning as well as the latest on how New Zealand vocational pathways are working out including the practical experiences of secondary schools implementing them.


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