Tuesday, October 20, 2015

NZ VET research forum, Day 1 morning

This year, the NZ Vocational Education and Training Research forum is held at Te Papa, the NZ National museum. Well attended by ITO with a sprinkling of polytechnic staff. Dr. Rhonda Thompson from Ako Aotearoa sets the scene and Dr. Peter Coolbear Ako Aotearoa Director provides a welcome and housekeeping information. The forum is then officially opened by the Hon Louise Upton, Associate Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment. The minister provided overview of Government with regards to skills, emphasising examples from the primary industry and need to ensure NZ trains for skills required rather than depending on offshore expertise. Reiterated the need to ensure all sectors of NZ are provided with opportunities to develop skills to contribute, using a need to increase participation of women in apprenticeship.

Opening keynote is with Dr. Borhene Chakroun who is with UNESCO as chief of the youth literacy and skills development group. Dr. Chakroun shared the guidelines outlined as UNESCO vision for TVET including qualifications, pathways and approaches to learning; the role of research, quality assurance and evaluation; governance, regulation, and funding; and greater involvement of non-government partners and connections to the labour market. The TVET future global strategy for 2016-2021 is currently being developed by UNESCO. Began with overview of current challenges and how TVET is able to contribute. Major challenge with youth unemployment and increase in income inequality. Skills in new innovations is rapid and we are now into the 6th wave of sustainability and technology. Multi skilling and reskilling now normal requirements. Yet TVET enrolments declining! Covered NZ's adoption of UN sustainability goals including poverty reduction, better health, quality education, gender equality, responsible consumption etc. by 2030 to ensure equitable and inclusive quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all. Focus of national economies on TVET to meet aspirations of 2030. Provided information on collaborative research with overview of key themes. Life long learning, 4 pillars of learning - learning to know, to do, to live together and to be - and rethinking education as a common good. 3 lenses need to be considered, sustainability (tend to be emergent), social equity (mixed attention)' and economic growth (main objective). TVET has great variety, volume through education to the masses, velocity due to rapid technological advances and need to maintain validity. Therefore need for objectives of TVET to be aligned with policies and systems through government (inter sectorial, funding and partnerships) to achieve equity quality and relevance and informed through evaluation and knowledge management. for 2030 propose support for policy and capacity development, set standards, manage knowledge and support skills intelligence, promote framework for transparency, recognition, mobility and lifelong learning pathways, and mobilise partners, networks and advocacy. Collaborative research agenda include skills anticipation, conceptualising skills (core, sustainability etc,), labour market / social outcomes, local development, learning (work based, pathways, spaces etc.), attractiveness of TVET, teacher training, governance and future of work. 

After morning tea, we have concurrent sessions. I attend presentation on 'why do industry trainees not complete their qualifications' - 'work's like work - there's nothing training about it' or learning, life and work Anne Alkema, Heather McDonald from Heathrose research and Dr. Nicky Murray from Ontask Ltd. Heather went through background and method. Project with 10 ITOs. Completions rates now at 36%, up from 30% five years ago. Qualitative interviews with 110 trainees (level 3 , 4) who withdrew in 2014. Literature reveals effect of system, employer and personal factors as contributing. 65% had nAtional qualification at level 3 or higher already. 80% motivated and 70% did not actually need a qualification but 60% of employers felt qualification required. Pay rates were not main motivating factor. Learning at work was a contentious, unstructured, need to ask for help. Training equated with book work which had to be completed on own time - the training burden. Support for the learning crucial. Especially if time available at work. Interventions may be useful at intersections of systems and employers. Workplace training affordances were main recommendations from trainees to assist completion. For system, good practice admin processes and assessment practices may assist. As training burden increases, drive to complete diminishes. 

A plenary session follows on the social and economic outcomes from vocational education with panel consisting of David Earle, chief research analyst at the Ministry of Education, Linda Cameron, senior analyst at Treasury and Josh Williams representing the VET reform group. David reported on the findings from the latest Youth Guarantee report on employment and further outcomes. Report on website. In general, YG stayed in education in the first year after programme, more likely to gain NCEA level 2 but having gained L2 does not raise participation in tertiary study. Modest improvement to employment outcomes following YG. Need to be realistic as YG is a single programme intervention which is short. 

Linda presented on why treasury supports TVET and the living standards framework. Treasury vision is to work for higher living standards for all NZers. Higher living standards represent economic growth, sustainability for the future, equity, social infrastructure and managing risks.

Josh shared the outcomes framework being developed by the VET reform group - a joint ITO and ITP initiative. Although VET works in NZ, there is still room for improvement. VET reform seeks to identify potential success indicators for NZ VET sector. Work needs to be done to ensure a 'joined up system' for impact and value, integration, flexibility, collaboration, choice and matching and alignment. Need to have the learner at the centre so there are no systemic / funding barriers to seamless movement between providers. 

Lively discussion followed before lunch break. 

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