Education Minister Hekia Parata said last weekend Aotearoa’s education system is in danger of experiencing a shortage of skilled tradespeople because it is so focused on channelling tauira (students) into whare wānanga (universities) and academia pathways.
About 70 percent of educational resources were aimed at the 30 percent of tauira who went on to whare wānanga and tertiary studies, she told the Dominion Post.
Speaking to a conference of private schools in Tāhuna, Hekia Parata said “It’s almost cheaper to get a lawyer than a plumber these days.”
“The backbone of Aotearoa has been built on tradespeople, who then go into business and become our middle-class citizens,” Parata said.
However TEU’s national president Lesley Francey gives a wero (challenge) to the minister’s commitment to trades education.
“Year-in, year-out, this government has cut funding to kuratini (polytechnics). It has cut foundation studies funding for kuratini. The government has overseen an era of retrenchments and course closures.”
Lesley Francey says Hekia Parata’s call for schools to focus on promoting trades will only work if kuratini have the capacity and funding to teach high-quality graduates, and that those graduates have secure mahi (employment) to go to.