Connecting the dots between secondary, tertiary and the workplace



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Stuart Middleton says we need to continue to promote opportunities for students to transition seamlessly from secondary schooling to tertiary education with a focus on their vocational and academic goals.

Stuart Middleton, Director, External Relations at Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT)

Stuart MiddletonThe issues of 2015 in education will surely become the basis for action in 2016. And while some say that change must happen and others argue that change must not happen, the fact is that change has already happened.

The maturing of the Youth Guarantee suite of initiatives has seem momentum develop in the offering of multiple pathways for students to achieve success and clearly increased positive educational outcomes in new and different ways. The scale of what is happening and public opinion will win the day against the forces of conservatism that continue to justify the status quo.

The evidence is becoming very clear. Students entering Trades Academy programmes are showing levels of success that enable them to move forward and up to opportunities that open up a future which will include fulfillment of the promise they show and lead to rewards that most seek through education.

The MIT Tertiary High School that recruits year 10 students facing a wall (sometimes but certainly not always of their own making) continues to achieve high levels of achievement not only in NCEA but also in career and technical qualifications.

In a nutshell, students in such programmes are discovering a purpose through their exposure to applied learning and the development of a line of sight to future employment and the rewards that come with it. No longer the tricky business of education for no obvious reason. The lack of purpose felt by so many students in the school system is a major issue.

Youth Guarantee fees-free places offer a different pathway for students aged 16–18 years as they continue their education in an Institute of Technology and Polytechnic setting. The recently announced lowering of the entry age for the Māori and Pasifika Trades Training initiative to 16 years offers another pathway to a brighter future. The resistance of the schooling system to overtly link secondary education to employment is an issue.

This highlights another issue – students should not be staying in schools when they are not continuing to lift their achievement. If school isn’t working for them by year 10 or 11 they are better to be elsewhere and on other pathways.

New opportunities are opening up for students to study at Level 3/year 13, which will see students at school for three days each week and for two days at an ITP. These students complete this transitional year with both NCEA Level 3 and the first semester of a Level 4 diploma in subjects such as engineering, building and construction and hospitality.

The key issues cluster around the extent to which the school system and its interface with tertiary together work to provide ‘managed transitions’; ‘pathways’ that demonstrate ‘seamlessness’ – each of which poses a challenge to the school system for students, other than those heading to a university or a degree programme.

What all these options offer students is the chance to be both a secondary and a tertiary student and to move seamlessly from schooling to tertiary to employment. The walled villages that we call sectors have been breached. That was the issue of 2015 and will continue to be the issue of 2016.

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