Education targets empty without investment

Posted By TEU on Jun 28, 2012 |

Tertiary Update Vol 15 No 22

Prime Minister John Key announced ten public sector targets this week – two of which he said would make tertiary education institutions more accountable. The two targets for boosting skills and employment are:

  • In 2017, 85 percent of 18-year-olds will have NCEA Level 2 or an equivalent qualification (up from 67 percent in 2010).
  • In 2017, 55 percent of 25-34 year olds will have a qualification at Level 4 or above (up from 52 percent in 2011).

The prime minister said the targets were “not a wish-list – they are a to-do list”.

“We want targets that are going to stretch the ability of the public sector to deliver them, and will force change.”

Tertiary education, skills and employment minister Steven Joyce emphasised that the targets would allow New Zealand to develop a more highly skilled workforce that will lead to increased economic growth.

The NCEA goal will affect wānanga and polytechnic, as well as secondary schools. It requires schools to provide more vocational pathways, skills-based learning and links with providers and employers. It also aims to increase the focus on trades academies and Youth Guarantees. The government expects providers to engage learners at risk of leaving, or who have already left, education.

The level 4 qualification goal aims to attract and retain more students in tertiary education by giving students more information, tracking their progress more closely and providing improved links between providers and employers.

The State Services Commission lists more detail about how the government intends to reach these targets, although in neither instance does its plan involve any new resources, funding or strategies that are not already in place. Ministers Steven Joyce and Hekia Parata will release more detailed plans in the coming weeks.

TEU’s national president Sandra Grey said all the government’s public sector targets implied that public servants are not working hard or smart enough.

“In reality it is only the skill, hard work and dedication to their job by public servants like teachers and general staff that keeps New Zealand’s high quality education afloat in the face on continuing funding cuts.”

“If this is a ‘to-do’ list, we don’t need more performance targets in education, what is needed it is genuine investment in the staff who make education exciting and engaging for young people,” said Sandra Grey.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

  1. University of Auckland must put ‘public’ at front of its strategy
  2. Funding cuts to regional job opportunities
  3. Employment outcome measures two years away
  4. Victoria claims to remove academic leave from collective
  5. Ministers need to protect academic freedom

Other news

The government has announced five Vocational Pathways to support young people progressing from school into tertiary training and a career. The new Vocational Pathways have been developed for five broad sectors of industry, covering a significant proportion of the current and future workforce. They are: Construction and Infrastructure, Manufacture and Technology, The Primary Industries, The Service Industries, Social and Community Services – Steven Joyce and Hekia Parata

According to ministerial briefing papers, there is a catch to the Government’s promise of more jobs. The Labour Department predicts 100,000 new jobs in the coming years, but the documents reveal they will largely benefit professional men, leaving low-skilled workers and women out in the cold – Radio Live

The University of Southern Queensland’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Jan Thomas, has questioned the value of rankings locally, and outlined why her university steers clear of rankings altogether. “In the domestic context, rankings have a discriminatory effect for little gain, marginalising and devaluing the work of smaller universities.”  – The Conversation

The University of Virginia’s governing board on Tuesday reinstated President Teresa Sullivan, moving to quell the campus uproar after the popular leader was ousted without a vote earlier this month. Faculty, students and others had organised a demonstration outside the meeting to show support for the popular Sullivan, who became UVA’s eighth president and its first female leader in August 2010. She criticized the board’s “corporate, top-down leadership” as not being in the university’s best interests – The Guardian

Bendigo is the latest Victorian TAFE to cut jobs, with the small regional cash-strapped institute announcing plans to shed 100 staff. The revelation has prompted speculation that TAFEs, struggling with budget cuts estimated at $300 million, may need help to sack their own staff. Almost a quarter of Bendigo’s courses will also be scrapped after the cuts reduced its income by a similar proportion – The Australian

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