Wednesday, October 21, 2015

NZVET research forum Day 2 morning

Day dawns fine, windy and clear in Wellington. Conference reconvenes with opening by Jenny Salesa, Labour (opposite party) spokesperson for Tertiary Education, skills and employment. Provided update on what has been taking place with the 'future for work' committee and how the conference participants can contribute. Presented the rationale for the work undertaken by the committee including need for inclusivity due to demographic changes challenging NZ in the next 30 years.

The day's first keynote is from Michael Davis, chief executive of the United Kingdom Commission for Employment and Skills who provides us with  'a British perspective on achieving growth through people: five principles for building a stronger skills system'. The five principles are employer led, improve workplace productivity, earning and learning, connect education and employers and wider set of outcomes measured as success in educational attainment. Produced overview and context leading to development of the principles. Globalisation and technology had led to squeezing out of many middle skills roles (e.g. Book keepers) but still high demands for low skills ( e.g. Aged care) and high skills (IT etc.). Natural ladder up work hierarchy therefore made more difficult. Need for rapid responsiveness to market means educating for high skill occupations always behind. Skills mismatch a major challenge with difficulties in filling some skilled positions and millions with skills who work in jobs where the skills are not utilised. As an example, Northern Ireland using FE colleges to prepare people for apprenticeships with 14 to 16 generalised formal pre apprenticeship. Trying to ease tensions between need of industry for generalised skill sets but specific skills by employers. Extended to degree level as well with 3 - 4 years work based route to complete batchelors. Many intangibles contribute to countries' GDP and with UK and NZ being service focused economies, there is challenge in quantifying outputs. How does individuals' motivations align with workplace objectives and business goals. 

After morning tea concurrent sessions begin and I attend session with Antje Handelmann who is a PhD student at the University of Applied Sciences Emden/Leer, Germany. She presents via Skype on 'the biographical relevance of apprenticeship '. Antje visited me in Christchurch earlier this year and it is good to see her progress. Objective to construct the perspectives of apprentices in Germany and NZ especially through school to work transitions. Using biographical research to construct youth perspective of school to work transition. Selected two countries with quite different apprenticeship systems. Overview of and rationale for using the biological method. Needs to analyse what people tell and how they tell it. So not just describe but the subjects entanglement in their social milieu. Provided some data and models how the data analysed. From the example, themes of social changes and the impact on individuals, who have to cope on their own, is revealed. Concluded on importance of research topic and contribution of biographical research. 

Next, a session with Sandra Johnson from Peninsula People and Lee Pennock from Downer NZ with mentor shop from Chris Holland, on 'a collaborative approach to apprentice mentoring: An employer 's perspective'. Presented details of Downer's workplace mentoring programme funded by Ako Aotearoa with other ITOs also assisting. Challenges were apprentices being geographically dispersed, covering a broad range of qualifications, poor retention and high non-completion. Cadet level mentoring was working well so how to scale across to apprenticeship with higher numbers and more complex range of trades. So focused on working with apprentices registered with 2 ITOs connexus and primary. Defined collaboration with advisory groups, initial survey to obtain baseline data, conducted workshops on mentoring with internal and ITO and the follow up survey. Established shared understanding on mentoring apprentices, training mentors, defined clear roles, established consistent tools to support the process. Shares the challenges and barriers after initial launch including time constraints and selection of mentors. Refinement of process then instigated. Firstly to rationalise number of qualifications apprentices sign up in and creating a structure for cohorts of apprentices to be formed twice a year, assisting in scheduling and support synergies. Completion rates improved with most apprentices working on track towards completion. Also better alignment between what apprentices required and what was provided by mentor and ITO support. 

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