Conference opening address: MIT Centre for Studies in Multiple Pathways / Ako Aotearoa conference

Monday, June 29, 2015

Key messages

  • We already have some great examples of pathways and transitions between secondary and tertiary education settings, and into employment, but we need to do more of this.
  • This conference brings together educators, policy makers, employers and industry to challenge the status quo and share initiatives.
  • The goal is to promote education and training pathways that result in successful employment outcomes for learners.


Co-hosting agencies:

  • Dr Peter Brothers, Chief Executive, Manukau Institute of Technology
  • Dr Stuart Middleton, Director External Relations at Manukau Institute of Technology
  • Dr Peter Coolbear, Director, Ako Aotearoa National Centre of Tertiary Teaching Excellence

Keynote speakers:

  • Sir Mark Solomon, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu
  • June Bayha, WestED, San Francisco
  • Paul Dalziel, Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit, Lincoln University

Tenā koutou, Ngā mihi nui. Ki a koutou. My warmest greetings to you all.

Conference theme - Pathways, Transitions, Working Across Boundaries

The discussions that you will have over the next two days on Pathways and Transitions, and Working Across Boundaries, are of great interest to government. 

Education needs to be relevant, and flexible enough to meet changing skills needs of industry.

If the education sector performs well as part of the overall economy, then everyone benefits.

For tertiary education - this is reflected in:

  • progress towards Better Public Service targets
  • the priorities in the Tertiary Education Strategy
  • re-invigoration of apprenticeships
  • Budget 2015 initiatives, such as the expansion of Maori and Pasifika Trades Training
  • encouraging secondary-tertiary partnerships, including Trades Academies

BPS Targets for Tertiary Education

BPS 5 Target:  In 2017, 85% of 18 year olds will have achieved NCEA Level 2 or equivalent

Progress: In 2013, 78.6% of 18 year olds had achieved NCEA Level 2 or equivalent, up from 74.3% in 2011

BPS 6 Target:  In 2018, 60% of 25 to 34 year olds will have a qualification at Level 4 or above

This target was raised from 55% by 2017, as great progress had already been made and we were on track to meet the target early

In the year to December 2014,  almost 55% of 25 to 34 year olds had achieved a qualification at Level 4 or above, up from 52% in 2011

Budget 2015

This year’s Budget continued our focus on linking tertiary education with the needs of industry, and invests in areas that are particularly important to our economic growth.

Budget 2015 also provided ongoing funding to support the implementation of Youth Guarantee initiatives - supporting regional advisors to work with the education sector to improve student retention, achievement and transitions into higher level study and employment. 

Maori and Pasifika Trades Training (MPTT)

Included in Budget 2015 is funding for an expansion of the Maori and Pasifika Trades Training scheme.

MPTT is a great example of how industry, communities and tertiary education organisations are working together to support learners make the transition to employment.

In the time it has been operating MPTT has:

  • Started to connect people disengaged from education, often with high needs and requiring significant pastoral care and academic support
  • Lifted the profile of trades training within Maori and Pasifika communities.

Given the traction this programme has created in a relatively short time, Budget 2015 allocated $8.4 million over four years to further increase Maori and Pasifika Trades Training places from 2016.

Supporting student transitions

The government supports a range of options to help learners transition from school into further study and employment.  These include:



Engineering: Education to Employment  (E2E)

Vocational Pathways and

Trades Academies.

Trades Academies

Trades Academies are a secondary-tertiary programme which provide another pathway for young people to achieve NCEA Level 2, and get a head start on gaining work-related skills which help them transition into the workforce.

Trades Academies have been successful in helping to increase retention and achievement within education, including the percentage of 18 year olds with NCEA Level 2.

Trades Academies are based on partnerships between schools, tertiary education providers, industry training organisations and employers.

With the success of these partnerships the number of Trades Academies has grown to 23 in 2015, including a new Trades Academy based here at MIT.

This year there are 5,250 Trades Academy places,

and Budget 2015 is funding an additional 300 places from 2016

Vocational Pathways

Vocational Pathways are a great tool creating pathways to transition from school into further education and employment.

Vocational Pathways help students to see how their learning and achievement is valued in the ‘world-of work’ by aligning Level 1 and 2 credits with six industries.

Vocational Pathways help learners choose study which aligns to their area of interest and future employment, and employers can use Vocational Pathways to see how potential employees’ skills align with their industry requirements.

Because they were developed collaboratively by the industry training sector, secondary and tertiary education representatives, and industry and employer representatives, they paint a real-world picture of industry pathways.

Work is now in progress to extend Vocational Pathways to Level 3 and above.


So we already have some great examples of pathways and transitions between secondary and tertiary education settings, and tertiary into employment, but we need to do more of this.

Employment is forecast to grow - and growth in demand for employment in highly skilled occupations will be higher than the overall employment growth.

As well as vocational qualifications, employers are looking for other, broader skills.  Business New Zealand has a top 10 list which includes:

  • Communication skills
  • Customer service skills
  • Ability to work well in a team
  • Literacy and numeracy skills
  • Confidence in learning about and using computers and technology
  • Planning and organisational skills
  • Initiative and a can-do attitude
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Good work habits and independence
  • Understanding of health and safety

The government wants a well-connected system and we want to see a strong alignment between tertiary study and economic growth.  To do this successfully, we need to ensure our learners have every opportunity to gain the right skills.

Closing remarks

As I mentioned earlier, your focus on pathways, transitions and working across boundaries in this conference resonates strongly with the government’s aspirations for the education sector.

I hope your conference will result in some great ideas for making the education system work better for learners, educators and employers.

I commend you on your theme, and look forward to hearing the outcomes of these important discussions.