The government’s proposal to reform New Zealand’s underachieving vocational education sector is laudable, but there are still concerns that need to be addressed, says a new research note from The New Zealand Initiative.

The research note, Hands-on: New suggestions to reform the vocational sector in New Zealand, identifies what changes need to be implemented to ensure the vocational education sector is given the same positive level of attention as a university education:

  • Industry training has to become more attractive for students and employers alike in order for it to be seen as a successful career path
  • The roles of different educational institutions in the vocational sector have to be clearly defined to manage expectations, and
  • Existing institutions must be independent and self-reliable so that they look for partners early and don’t count on the government to step in once the business model has proven to be dysfunctional for many years.

Author Natanael Rother, who hails from Switzerland and has seen first-hand how successful this pathway can be says, “Looking overseas to Switzerland, Austria, and Germany, it is common for most young people to choose some vocational pathway. Not because of a lack of alternatives, but because they see it as the best option for kickstarting their professional career.”

With over 90% of all Kiwi business leaders identifying skills availability as a threat for future growth, New Zealand cannot afford to overlook the skills and talent that comes with choosing a vocational pathway.

Dr. Oliver Hartwich, executive director of the Initiative says, “The crucial prerequisite for a good apprenticeships system is equality of esteem. The graduate of an apprenticeship should enjoy the same respect a university graduate does. The master-builder should be just as proud as the MBA graduate.”

While our research note does not aim to solve all the vocational pathways problems, we intend to provide much-needed inspiration for the government’s task to finish its large-scale reform.

Read, Hands-on: New suggestions to reform the vocational sector in New Zealand.

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