Making waves in education through teamwork

Issue: Volume 93, Number 20

Posted: 10 November 2014
Reference #: 1H9csH

The Ministry of Education’s Vocational Pathways programme was recognised for its efforts at collaboration when it recently won the Drake New Zealand Government Partnerships category in the 2014 AUT Business School Excellence in Business Support Awards.

Arthur Graves, general manager of Youth Guarantee, attributes the programme’s success to working with schools and tertiary providers to raise student achievement.

Arthur is also grateful for the commitment and support of other government agencies, employers, and industry training organisations involved in Youth Guarantee.

“It was clear from the beginning that for Vocational Pathways to succeed we couldn’t do it alone,” he says.

“Working together has been the key to making sure Vocational Pathways would make a difference to students and help them better plan for their futures.”

The evaluator for the AUT awards said in their report on Vocational Pathways that it has immense potential and that it “will play a transformational role in realising the value of NCEA for New Zealand by encouraging schools to move towards a curriculum that is focused on employability and skills.

“In the last 18 months, great progress has been made on embedding the programme into schools and tertiary institutions. This sets a strong platform for activating a programme with benefits that will be felt throughout New Zealand’s economy.”

An example of how Vocational Pathways is being effectively incorporated is at Marlborough Boys’ and Girls’ Colleges.

These schools have partnered with the Nelson/Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT), local government, and industry to investigate and develop a viticulture programme as part of the Primary Industries Pathway.

This will be taught to students from Year 12 through what is tentatively named a Marlborough School of Viticulture. Students will be able to progress on from Year 13 to complete the course as an under-graduate degree should they want to.

This is a good example of how school subjects can be a stepping stone to a career or further study within a specific sector.

“When students study subjects in areas that are relevant and interesting to them, they are much more likely to stay at school and remain engaged with their learning”, says Arthur.

Supporters and stakeholders of this initiative in Marlborough are Mayor Alistair Sowman and members of the viticulture and winemaking industry, including Wine Marlborough, an association of local growers.

Marlborough Boys’ College assistant principal James Ryan says: “We are looking at Marlborough in context. Marlborough is internationally renowned for its wine. Many students in the area live on vineyards and have families involved in the industry. We are looking at ways our school leavers can be in the best place to take advantage of the local labour market. Wine runs through this town. There should be employment for every school leaver.

“I’ve spoken to a few big growers and they are excited by the prospect of better links between education and industry. These conversations are the first step to getting industry to think about how they can really support Vocational Pathways.”
Alistair agrees industry support is vital for the Primary Industries viticultural pathway to be a success.

“With more than 80 per cent of New Zealand’s wine production happening here in Marlborough, viticulture is one of our big industries and it is in the interests of the industry and the wider region to help our school leavers see the opportunities presented by this sector.

“Of course, there is the seasonal labour demand with pruning and harvest but there are also very many other roles ranging from lab work to vineyard management, specialised viticultural and engineering jobs and financial and business management positions. Wineries often have to look far afield to fill these roles.

“I welcome this move to offer our young people higher education opportunities relevant to the local needs. In terms of our regional development strategy, we want to see a workforce with more qualifications and higher skill levels and I am very pleased to see this opportunity to address that need,” says Alistair.

The plan is to look at all jobs on a vineyard from engineering to hospitality, working with industry to get the skills and workers needed. Aligning the skills with potential job opportunities in viticulture will be underway before 2016, and while planning is still being done, real progress will be made by early 2015.

James believes creating a clear pathway for students is key to meeting targets of improving rates of NCEA Level 2 achievement and keeping young people in education. In 2013, 45 per cent of the college’s boys who achieved university entrance went on to university study.

“What we are doing is creating a link so that the students know what is open to them,” says James.

“They do not have to take the pathway, but it is a roadmap. This line of sight does not exclude young people from following other pathways, but provides them with the broad foundation skills and knowledge to succeed.”

Vocational Pathways

Vocational Pathways was introduced across the country 15 months ago following consultation with schools, tertiary institutions, and industry. It aims to ensure that New Zealanders have sufficient high school qualifications to progress into further education or skills training. This will help make future generations productive, confident, and valuable members of society.

Vocational Pathways is a tool whereby a secondary school student can ‘bundle’ their subjects together according to one of six industries or sectors, these are: Creative Industries, Primary Industries, Service Sector, Social and Community Services, Manufacturing and Technology, and Construction and Infrastructure.

This is to help students focus on how their school learning becomes a pathway to what they might do after school. It helps guide them to select subjects which interest them and which best align with what they want to do in the future. This makes the students’ learning relevant – both to themselves and to future employers or further learning institutions – but most importantly it helps students stay engaged in what they are learning at school. For more on Vocational Pathways see: link)

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 1:47 pm, 10 November 2014

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