Rethinking education

Instead of throwing an election bribe at the educated elite shouldn’t we rethink how we do tertiary education and work retraining.

Over the last fifty years there has been a shift towards more academic diplomas and degrees, but has this been at the expense of relevant work training?

If people are expected to have to retrain several times through their working life in the future it’s not practical to spend years getting academic qualifications each time.

What about having shorter one or two year general tertiary courses supplemented by more targeted short courses?

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  1. Kevin

     /  2nd February 2016

    Universities should be for teaching critical thinking and technical institutions for specific job related training.

    • Timoti

       /  2nd February 2016

      Agreed. And I think our Universities should be for our intellectually elite. Maori studies, unless associated with anthropology, should be chucked, along with feminist bs. Save that for polytechs, The message hasn’t got through to many that plumbers earn more than someone with a degree in media studies. When I was at school, many from my area left for Trade Training in Christchurch. Now they leave the area for University.

  2. John Schmidt

     /  2nd February 2016

    While I disagree with Labour’s recent tertiary education policy I am not totally against the concept of doing something to assist people change careers as the market moves. Have no idea what that means but Labour’s policy if nothing else has people thinking and that is a good thing.

    • alloytoo

       /  2nd February 2016

      There is certainly a place for retraining, and it’s an area where the government should perhaps be talking to big business, problem is, labour’s policy specifically excludes folk who need retraining, and with a billion dollar price tag it doesn’t leave anything in the kitty for those that need it.

  3. Maggy Wassilieff

     /  2nd February 2016

    We need to reach the 14-15 year olds that are beginning to disengage with school.
    NZ has a long tail of underachievers…. young adults that lack the basic knowledge and skills that are necessary for any type of employment .
    I support a move away from traditional schools for pupils who don’t want to sit on their bums for 5 hours a day under the watchful eye of a secondary school teacher.
    Some folks are better suited to practical forms of learning where they pick up their education on the job under the tutelage of an experienced practitioner.
    Open up more trade academies and lower the age that pupils can leave school and enter polytechs.

  4. Pantsdownbrown

     /  2nd February 2016

    In my industry I have seen a lot of people come through with a ‘qualification’ for a certain industry/skill but once hired they had no idea what they were doing – meaning the qualification itself was either poorly constructed or too easy to obtain. I think chucking more money at the tertiary institutions will just see an increase in pointless courses as a money-grab takes place.

    The other well documented issue is the need nowadays to have a ‘qualification’ before you will even be looked at for certain jobs even though the work could be quickly learnt on-the-job by anyone with half a brain (an example that comes to mind is a shelf-stacking qualification). Often an employer will place more emphasis on a prospective employee having a certain qualification whilst overlooking that person’s experience of working hands-on in the same activity. This reliance on having a qualification for every little task really makes getting a job harder than it should be.

    I believe any extra money should be used in getting people away from the classroom and into more on-the-job training.

    • Oliver

       /  2nd February 2016

      Yea I agree. The reason for this is two fold, the first reason is for educational institutions to make money. The second reason is so that the employer doesn’t have to pay the employee to learn the basic skills required, which means they save money. The truth is the best to learn a job is to do it, pre training have minute benefits for the employee.

      • jamie

         /  2nd February 2016

        Depends on the job but there is definitely truth in what you say.

        The “education as a profit centre” mentality – which is just an extension of the “everything is a market” mentality – that has crept in over the last 30 years is causing a lot of problems.

        • oliver

           /  2nd February 2016

          Yep you’re absolutely right it’s a new mentality. And it’s not just education that has become a profit centre it’s also residential property and now water.

  5. Goldie

     /  2nd February 2016

    Labour should be praised for raising an important issue – whether the current/future workforce is able to meet the likely challenges of the mid-21st century, and Labour do seem to get that automation is not only inevitable but potentially beneficial (provided we have the workforce with the skills to take advantage of that). And the opposition should be praised for trying to engage with the big problems of the future (a criticism of the current government is they are very risk-averse and they have stopped asking the big policy questions).

    But having identified the problem, Labour then miss the target.
    First, they focus on automation, but in fact much of the change is being driven by new production processes in the workplace (esp. HACCP systems) which demand much more technically proficient workers.
    Second, any solution would surely be aimed at technical training at levels 2-5 (where most training is done through ITOs). However, it has been pitched at tertiary (i.e. university), where there isn’t the problem (NZ produces more than enough graduates with degrees, often in the arts, but we don’t produce enough people with lower-level certificates/diplomas in technical/trade skills).
    Third, the stated reason for the policy is to allow workers to reskill. But three years of free tertiary education for someone who already has quals does not do that.
    Fourth, the policy is not ‘free’. No government policy is ever free – someone has to pay for it. And practically the government can bulk-fund education providers, but they cannot stop those education providers from then charging students what they want. The best that government can do is to provide a very generous subsidy to education providers that they hope will meet the estimated tuition costs.

    So kudos to Labour for trying to engage with a big question. But they have missed the target with this proposal.

  6. 1) I wonder to what extent this perception of “ever changing career requiring constant re-training” actually corresponds with reality? Are there statistics? For what portion of the working population is this really the case? For example, a person leaving their career job for another unrelated one or to start an unrelated business? (And does the latter require institutional re-training?) How much of this perception is actually about promotion and head-hunting within enterprises, careers and/or industries?

    2) While I consider Labour’s initiative admirable it also appears extremely limited. It’s like saying “Look at the amazing variety available in the workplace nowadays! Here’s your one and only (free) avenue through which to avail yourself of it”. Kinda dumb I reckon.

    As others have stated I reckon education generally and especially “job-related” education needs to be blown wide open; or more correctly “freed”. We’ve known for decades that children (and people) learn in various different ways and yet we force them into ‘classrooms’ and confine them in ‘schools’ to learn (often) unhealthy relationship dynamics.

    3) The variety of further education, re-training and skill development (and personal development too) are limited only by our imaginations. For instance, one person upskills – utilising their education subsidy part-time – also drawing their student allowance – while job-sharing with someone else? Or “education leave” rather like “maternity leave”?

    I think short courses and on-the-job training are essential, as is reducing reliance on qualifications in favour of performance (although the question then becomes, “how does the employer choose”?) Online education, including “after hours” is already well established and could perhaps be expanded? Some qualifications could be ‘compressed’ in duration too, notably trades, where you can do a 3 – 4 year apprenticeship in 1 year in the Armed Forces (or could in Canada in the 1960s. “Canadians are fearless”)

    4) To be avoided is the uptake of “further education” simply to compensate for casualisation, under-employment and unemployment in society, without looking for other remedies as to why society has become like this, and especially without ‘upskilled jobs’ being available to go to? If one person vacates a casualised or zero-hour contract job simply to make way for another person to take it up, nothing has really changed. We’re still saying it’s okay for us – the society we are all members of – not to provide reasonable ’employment’ for our constituent members; for all of ourselves (and that statement doesn’t work perfectly vice-versa but yes, insomuch as it does, for each of us to provide ’employment’ for ourselves)

  7. Alan Wilkinson

     /  2nd February 2016

    Some good comments here. I think it would be more sensible to think of retraining as a joint employer/employee project which may or may not involve a third party provider.

    If it is left to employees and/or educators alone there is likely to be a huge amount of misdirection and wastage.


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