Inspiring the future for young New Zealanders

Issue: Volume 98, Number 21

Posted: 6 December 2019
Reference #: 1HA3fG

The Tertiary Education Commission’s Inspiring the Future programme includes Drawing the Future, an activity designed to help shape the career aspirations of young New Zealanders.

Think back to your career dreams when you were at primary school. Did you have a clear idea of what you wanted to be when you grew older? Were you keen to follow in the footsteps of your parents, older siblings or favourite action hero? Or did your career aspirations change as often as your socks?

The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) has launched a new programme to explore the ways that unconscious bias, gender stereotypes and a range of other factors influence the way Kiwi kids think about their future jobs. 

The Inspiring the Future programme includes Drawing the Future, which is a research campaign into the career aspirations of New Zealanders aged seven to 12.

The Drawing the Future activity was recently launched by Education Minister Chris Hipkins at Porirua East School, Wellington. Packs have been sent to primary and intermediate schools throughout the country so students can draw what they want to be when they grow up and answer a set of simple questions about their chosen job. By late November, TEC had received more than 7,500 drawings from students at
185 schools. 

“The programme, developed by UK-based charity Education and Employers, has been shaped to meet the needs of New Zealand tamariki,” explains Tim Fowler, Chief Executive of the TEC. “It’s about helping children to see the range of possibilities they could achieve, and what they will need to study to get to where they want to be.”

You can’t be what you can’t see

Once the Drawing the Future packs are returned, the TEC will analyse the data to identify patterns of bias that often limit young people’s career choices. This will help to address stereotypes and focus attention on targeted areas. 

Engaging volunteers from local communities, Inspiring the Future will include sessions where people from a range of backgrounds come into schools and talk with children about the work they do, the training they did to get there and the skills they’ve learned along the way.

The exercise is designed to open young minds to the vast range of career opportunities beyond their daily experience, and broaden their aspirations about job options and education pathways. It’s an easy and accessible way for the world of school and the world of work to connect.

“We’re running this programme in primary and intermediate schools to introduce the aspirational thinking that can support career decisions and goals when these students enter secondary school,” says Tim.

“Research from British organisation Education and Employers has shown that children’s career aspirations are shaped at a young age and are largely influenced by their gender and who they know. We want to discover whether the same is reflected in New Zealand.”

The research(external link) has demonstrated that, for primary school children especially, they can’t be what they can’t see, so this a great way to raise aspirations and awareness. This programme supports children in building some of the steps they will need to help them at different times in their journey through education and work. 

Broadening horizons

Closer to home, the TEC has been working with several Kiwi schools piloting Inspiring the Future events. Feedback has been positive, and the TEC will continue engaging with the wider community including business and Iwi representatives, and career and education professionals.

“The TEC is working to introduce Inspiring the Future in New Zealand schools next year. The programme is part of the organisation’s broader career focus that supports lifelong learning and provides readily available career information for all New Zealanders,” says Tim.

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 10:40 am, 6 December 2019

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