Inbox: New learning for a new economy

The talent development focus in the corporate sector is mostly on graduate skills and performance, and executive and professional development. But what about the ‘feedstock’ for driving the economic engine of the future?
As many Auckland residents can attest, it can be almost impossible to get plumber or electrician at short notice. And talk of the need to import tradespeople for the Christchurch rebuild has left many wondering just what’s happened to workforce planning and strategies to ensure that our education system is delivering graduates with the skills and resources that the current and future workplace requires.
It’s not only an apparent mis-match between vocational training and workplace needs that’s of concern but high level of disengaged students throughout the schooling system. Disengagement and premature exit from formal education mean both huge waste of potential and growing cost to the nation for the social services to support marginalised under-achievers. But it is providing the impetus for range of unconventional solutions.
Some of the most innovative thinking is delivering education programmes targeting young Maori. Many of these programmes are driven by concern about both unemployment and under-employment of young Maori – particularly young Maori men.
The Open Wananga, the home-based learning subsidiary of Te Wananga o Aoteoroa, introduced project this year targeting unemployed young male Maori in particular, those in low-paid jobs and those looking to enter the workforce.
Called Mahi Toa, the fee-free programme delivers National Certificate in Employment Skills.
The Open Wananga looked beyond traditional learning models and conventional education recruitment and engagement strategies; searching for examples of contemporary advertising and media campaigns and characters that pushed the buttons of the demographic they were targeting.
The Canterbury earthquakes sparked collaborative Maori Trade Training initiative in Christchurch last year called He Toki ki te Rika – Inspiring Maori Leadership in Trades – between CPIT, Te Tapua o Rehua, The Office of Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu, and the BETA cluster of ITOs and supported by Te Puni Kokiri.
It aimed to increase the participation of Maori in trade-based careers at all levels, and build Maori capability within the building and infrastructure industries in Canterbury.
And Tai Wananga, Maori-culture based secondary school which opened in Hamilton this year, seeks students who are passionate about science and have leadership potential. The school is joint initiative between Te Wananga o Aoteoroa and the Ministry of Education. It has an innovation and technology focus and is open to non-Maori also.
Students have an hour’s compulsory exercise each morning before studies. The principal Toby Westrupp headed Tu Toa, similar school venture in Palmerston North which successfully used sport to engage with students.
These are beacons of hope and potential in an education landscape that largely appears to be geared still to deliver too few of the scientists, engineers, innovators and entrepreneurs (and tradespeople) that the rapidly evolving economic environment requires.
It’s problem shared by most developed economies; where economic change has outstripped the ability of education and training strategies to keep up. In the UK for example, there is grave shortage of engineers required to maintain the nation’s position as the ninth largest manufacturing country in the world. More than two million new engineers will be required over the next 10 years with 31 percent of high-tech manufacturers already recruiting from overseas. M

Visited 9 times, 1 visit(s) today
Close Search Window